The role of the municipalities

In Sweden, the municipalities are responsible for a larger share of public financed services than in most other countries and they have the right to levy taxes to finance operations.

The municipalities are responsible for practically all childcare and primary and secondary education. All education in the compulsory system is free of charge. Elderly care and care of the disabled are also important tasks for the municipalities.They are also responsible for example water supply, waste disposal, spatial planning and rescue services.

The different roles

These different areas of responsibility mean that the municipalities play several different roles.

Service providers

The municipalities are service providers in the fields of care, social services, education and infrastructure. Either on its own or as a commissioner of private actors.

Developer of society

Municipalities plans include housing, infrastructure and community development in general.

Supervisory authorities

The municipalities have a supervisory responsibility, such as measuring air and water pollution and checking the labelling of foodstuffs.


While the municipalities form part of the public sector, they are also employers with responsibility for the implementation of labour law and the provision of personnel. 


The municipalities are legally or contractually responsible for example:

  • Childcare and preschools
  • Primary and secondary education
  • Care of the elderly and disabled
  • Social services
  • Water supply and sewerage
  • Infrastructure, traffic, public transport
  • Plan and environmental issues
  • Rescue services and emergency preparedness

Other services provided on a voluntary basis include for example:

  • Culture and Leisure services
  • Housing
  • Industrial and commercial services 

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