Growth, Tradition and Renewal: The Economic History of Stockholm since 1945

From an economic perspective, today’s Stockholm is by far Sweden’s most important metropolitan area. Those economic activities that are considered to be of special importance for the country’s future international competitiveness, such as information technology, pharmacology, bio-technology and finance, are to a large extent concentrated in Stockholm. In a time of accelerating globalization, when capital, manufactured goods and, to some degree, people are increasingly free to move across national boundaries, Stockholm’s role as the center of the Swedish economy has become increasingly evident.

The development of Stockholm since World War II is a clear indication of the transformation of Sweden from an industrial to a service and information society. In fact, already during the inter-war period, Stockholm was replaced by Gothenburg as the country’s most important industrial center. Shortly thereafter, Malmo also passed Stockholm in terms of industrial activity. Instead the capital experienced an increasing concentration of corporate headquarters, new service firms and, not least, government administration. Together with the traditional manufacturing activities that were able to recreate themselves, such as telecommunications and pharmacology, Stockholm has experienced something of an economic metamorphosis during recent decades. In other words, it can be said that Stockholm has led the way in the third industrial revolution of the Swedish economy.

Remarkably enough, there exists no overall survey of Stockholm’s industrial and economic transformation during the post war period – in other words, no Economic History of Stockholm. Many other cities, including the country’s second and third largest, Gothenburg and Malmö, and even a number of medium sized ones, such as Uppsala, Norrköping and Västerås, have been the subject of comprehensive economic-historical studies. Thus, the absence of any historical study of Stockholm is all the more striking.

The intent of the project, “Growth, Tradition and Renewal: The Economic History of Stockholm since 1945” is to describe and explain, from an historical and comparative perspective, how the Stockholm region has handled the change from an industrial to a service and information based economy. The goal is to produce an integrated series of monographs that will provide a comprehensive picture of Stockholm’s economic development during the post-war period. The planned component studies will, among other topics, deal with the financial markets, the media and news market, the information technology and life sciences industries, the private construction industry and the tourism and entertainment industries, as well as the political economy of Stockholm.

The project will be carried out in cooperation with the Uppsala Center for Business History at Uppsala University, Stockholmia Publishing and the Committee for Research on Stockholm.

Published studies within the project:

Karin Ågren, Att sälja en stad : Stockholms besöksnäring 1936-2011, Stockholmia förlag, 2013.

Camilla Elmhorn, Från hot till löfte : Stockholms ekonomiska omvandling 1945-2010, Stockholmia förlag, 2013.


Tom Petersson, Uppsala universitet - projektledare
Mats Larsson, Uppsala universitet
Jonathan Metzger, Uppsala universitet
Karin Ågren, Uppsala universitet
Jan Ottosson, Uppsala universitet
Anders Waxell, Uppsala universitet
Camilla Elmhorn, Stockholms universitet
Carina Gråbacke, Göteborgs universitet
Thomas Pettersson, Umeå universitet

Project finansing

Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser
Marcus och Amalia Wallenbergs minnesfond
Ridderstads stiftelse för historisk grafisk forskning

Contact person

Docent Tom Petersson
Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen, Box 513, 751 20 Uppsala
Tel.: 018-471 73 15