Arctic Sweden (Fall)Core Course Week Study Tour | Economics Program

The short Study Tour will take us 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle to the Swedish city of Kiruna. Kiruna is located above the world’s largest iron ore extraction site. The mine, which has amassed the city great wealth, is now threatening its very existence. In order to avoid the dangerous fractures appearing at the city’s surface, Kiruna and its 23,000 inhabitants are in the process of being moved 3.2km, an unusual example of public/private cooperation. What decisions are taken by the public sector when they have the option to remake their town? What criteria are used for investment decisions, and how are costs and benefits allocated and measured?

Additionally, the tour provides an opportunity to examine two other areas of government expenditure. Sweden was the first country in Europe to establish the national park concept in 1909, opening Abisko National Park 52 miles northwest of Kiruna in that year. Moreover, the area around Kiruna is home to the majority of Sweden’s Sami population. We look at public expenditure in both these areas and use microeconomic tools to investigate if the taxpayer’s finance is a grant or as an investment.

Tour Objectives

  • Observe how public resources are allocated in a number of unusual circumstances and examine how this expenditure is coordinated with or triggered by private sector spending
  • Investigate issues of economic exclusion and the case for public engagement in the inclusion agenda
  • Consider fiscal federalism and how this is interpreted and utilized in a Swedish context

Possible Activities

  • Examine first hand the costs and benefits of tourism in the extremely fragile environment of Abisko National Park
  • Discuss priorities for local economic development with native Sami civic leaders
  • Travel 1,700 feet underground to the LKAB iron ore mine