Sustainable Development Goals

The Nordic Countries and SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

This data tracker looks at how the Nordic countries are progressing towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 10, using the latest official data from the UN and the OECD.

Adopted in 2015 by all United Nations (UN) members, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a global agenda for making the world a better place by 2030. They are described by the UN as a ‘shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet‘, and goals are to be achieved by all countries, in global partnership, by 2030.

This data tracker uses the latest official data to look at how the Nordic countries are progressing towards achieving the 17 SDGs, with this page looking closer at Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.

Each target is presented by first looking at global trends, before zooming in on the Nordic countries and assessing their performance. The assessment is based on work by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in analysing the progress made toward the SDGs in all OECD countries.

Target 10.1

By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average


10.1.1Growth rates of household expenditure or income per capita among the bottom 40 per cent of the population and the total population

Global trends

This indicator compares the income growth of the poorest with the national average. The poorest is defined as the bottom 40% of the population, measured by income. For a country to achieve reduced income inequality when measured in this way, the income growth of the poorest needs to be higher than that of the national average.

About half of the countries with available data saw higher income growth of the bottom 40% of the population than the national average. Note that data is only available for 120 countries, and is based on household surveys from 2009 to 2020. Only 13 countries have data for this indicator from 2020.

The Nordics

The OECD benchmarks progress on this indicator by comparing the latest country data against the top OECD performers in 2015. This entails a target of income growth in the poorest 40% of the population that rises 0.9 percentage points (pp.) faster than the national average.

The chart below shows the latest data for the Nordics, with Denmark coming closest with a 0.6pp. faster growth rate among the poorest. However, there is not enough data available to make a trend assessment for Denmark and Sweden. Among the remaining countries with data available, only Norway is making progress (though insufficient to meet the target) according to the OECD.

Target 10.2

By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status


10.2.1Proportion of people living below 50% of median income

Global trends

A key measure of inclusion is the relative income poverty rate, measured by the share of a country's population living on less than half the median income. On average across 163 countries worldwide, 13% of the population lives below 50% of the median income.

Over time, progress towards reducing this rate has been made in about two-thirds of countries. Although rates are highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, this is one of the regions which has made the most progress over the last years according to the UN. In Europe and Northern America, less than half of the countries have managed to reduce the relative income poverty rate.

The Nordics

The OECD has operationalised the 2030-target for relative income poverty at 5.5% for OECD countries. This is half the median OECD average share in 2015.

None of the Nordics have made significant progress towards this target. In Sweden and Norway, the relative income poverty has increased. In the OECD as a whole, only a few countries (Ireland, Mexico, Poland and the United Kingdom) have managed to reduce their relative income poverty rates over the past 15 years.

Target 10.3

Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard


10.3.1Proportion of population reporting having personally felt discriminated against or harassed within the previous 12 months on the basis of a ground of discrimination prohibited under international human rights law

Global trends

Insufficient data is available to analyse global or regional trends.

The Nordics

Due to the limited data available, the OECD uses data from the Gallup World Poll as a replacement indicator. The Gallup World Poll includes the following question: "Is the city or area where you live a good place or not a good place to live for racial and ethnic minorities?".

Survey results show that on average 75% of respondents in OECD countries answer "yes" to this question. In the latest available year (2020/2021), all the Nordics were above the OECD average, yet Norway is the only country on track to reach the 2030-target (set at 97%).

Note that the data presented above by no means serves to give a full picture of discrimination. However, given the lack of comparable country data over time, it can contribute to an understanding of the prevalence of discrimination.

Target 10.4

Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality


10.4.1Labour share of GDP
10.4.2Redistributive impact of fiscal policy

Global trends

Compared to 2004, the earliest year for which data is available, the labour share of income worldwide has decreased from 54.1% to 52.6% in 2019. Over the past decade, the labour share has remained more or less unchanged.

Labour shares are generally higher in high-income countries. However, Australia and New Zealand as well as Europe and Northern America have both seen a decline in the labour share of income compared to 2004.

Data on the redistributive impacts of fiscal policy are not available at the global or regional level.

The Nordics

In assessing progress for OECD countries, the OECD relies on data from its Income Distribution Database (IDD) rather than the SDG global indicator database due to the availability of more updated data.

For the labour share, the OECD target is operationalised at 52% which is the level of top OECD performers in 2015. The latest data from 2019 shows that all the Nordics are within close range of the target level, with Iceland and Denmark currently above. However, time-series analysis by the OECD shows that a trend over time can only be established for Norway and Sweden, both of which are making progress though deemed insufficient to reach the target.

Overall the OECD estimates that based on current trends, only six OECD countries have a high likelihood of reaching the target level of 52% by 2030 (Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Germany and Switzerland).

The second indicator redistributive impact of fiscal policy is measured by the Gini coefficient (a measure of inequality) before and after the effects of taxes and transfers. A higher relative difference would indicate that taxes and transfers have stronger redistributive effects. The target level has been set at a relative difference of 38% (the level of top OECD performers in 2015). In other words, that taxes and transfers reduce inequality as measured through the Gini coefficient by 38%.

The latest datashows that none of the Nordics is currently at the target level. Trend analysis by the OECD indicates that Denmark and Sweden have become less distributive, while Iceland has become more redistributive. No trend can be established over time for Finland and Norway, according to the OECD. The general trend for OECD-countries is in a direction of less redistributive fiscal policies, with only seven countries (including Iceland) making progress.

The overall assessment by the OECD, taking into account both indicators as well as other UN data sources on labour share (based on ILO data) and redistribution, is that none of the Nordics making progress towards the target.

Target 10.5

Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations


10.5.1Financial Soundness Indicators

Global trends

No data is available at the global or regional level.

The Nordics

The basis for the measurement of progress on this target is the IMFs Financial Soundness Indicators, which consist of seven indicators that aim to assess the strenghts and vulnerabilities of countries' financial systems.

While no target level is set in the global indicator framework, the OECD has operationalised the 2030-target by benchmarking performance against the level achieved by top OECD performers in 2015.

Overall, the assessment by the OECD is that Sweden is the only country with a high likelihood of reaching the target by 2030. Norway and Denmark are making progress, though insufficient to reach the target.

Target 10.6

Ensure enhanced representation and voice for developing countries in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions


10.6.1Proportion of members and voting rights of developing countries in international organizations

Global trends

The chart below shows the latest available data (mainly from 2019/2020/2021) on developing countries' share of voting rights and membership in different international organisations.

The largest discrepancies between membership share and voting rights are found in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (part of the World Bank), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Finance Cooperation (IFC).

Over the past two decades, developing countries' share of voting rights, as well as membership shares, have remained relatively stable. One notable exception is an increase in voting rights in the IMF from 31% in 2000 to 38% in 2020.

The Nordics

Target not applicable to measure for Nordic countries.

Target 10.7

Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies


10.7.1Recruitment cost borne by employee as a proportion of monthly income earned in country of destination
10.7.2Number of countries with migration policies that facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people
10.7.3Number of people who died or disappeared in the process of migration towards an international destination
10.7.4Proportion of the population who are refugees, by country of origin

Global trends

No data is available for the first indicator (10.7.1).

The second indicator (10.7.2) of migration policies is assessed by the UN through looking at six policy domains at the country-level:

  • Migrant rights
  • Whole-of-government/Evidence-based policies
  • Cooperation and partnerships
  • Socioeconomic well-being
  • Mobility dimensions of crises
  • Safe, orderly and regular migration

The six policy domains cover a total of 30 indicators on migration policy. Countries are classified by a score from 1 to 4 on whether they have migration policy that facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people:

  • 1 = Country requires further progress
  • 2 = Country partially meets requirements
  • 3 = Country meets requirements
  • 4 = Country fully meets requirements

The chart below shows the share of countries reaching levels 3 and 4 (meets/fully meets), worldwide and by SDG region.

While data does not allow for assessing trends over time, data from 2021 shows that worldwide some 6 of 10 countries reach level 3 or above. The share of countries reaching levels 3 and 4 was lowest in Oceania and highest in Central and Southern Asia and Europe and Northern America.

For the third indicator (10.7.3), the latest data from 2021 shows that the number of deaths and disappearances during migration reached its highest level since 2017, with the majority of fatalities (above 3,400) occurring on maritime and land routes to and through Europe. According to the UN, the pandemic was an important factor in the 2021 figures:

The widespread impact of the pandemic forced many people seeking safety, reunification with family, decent work and better opportunities to take risky migratory routes.

Data on the fourth indicator (10.7.4) shows that the number of refugees is on the rise worldwide. Measured as the number of refugees per 100,000 population, the number of refugees increased by 44% since 2015, from 216 to 311 in 2021. Northern Africa and Western Asia is by far the region with the highest share of refugees (1545 per 100,000 population), with over 8 million of the world's 24 million refugees originating from this region.

The Nordics

The OECD does not assess progress on this target, as data at the OECD-country level is only available for the second (10.7.2 migration policies) and fourth indicator (10.7.4 share of refugees). On the latter, there is no clear normative direction for which to assess the target (if the share should be high/low).

Scores on migration policies (10.7.2) show Denmark at level 2 (partially meets requirements) and the other Nordic countries at level 3 (meets requirements).

Target 10.a

Implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements


10.a.1Proportion of tariff lines applied to imports from least developed countries and developing countries with zero-tariff

Global trends

In 2020 just over half of the products produced in developing regions received duty-free treatment. For exports from least developed countries, the duty-free share stood slightly higher at 64%.

Since 2015, the duty-free share has remained stable for LDCs, while it has increased by 4 percentage points for developing regions, indicating improvements in special and differential treatment.

The share of duty-free lines varies significantly between sectors, with textile and clothing exports having the lowest shares of duty-free lines.

The Nordics

There is no set target for the share of duty-free tariff lines at the country level. As such, the OECD has operationalised this target for OECD countries at 69%, which is the level of the top OECD performers in 2015 (Iceland being one of them).

Iceland has kept its level above the target threshold, while the other Nordics are making progress towards it, and have increased their duty-free share since 2015.

New data has been released by the UN since the OECD published its report. The OECD assessment is therefore not shown.

Target 10.b

Encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries, African countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes


10.b.1Total resource flows for development, by recipient and donor countries and type of flow (e.g. official development assistance, foreign direct investment and other flows)

Global trends

While the target sets out a commitment to encourage development assistance and investment, there is no set numerical target. Data from the OECD on total resource flows is shown below for informative purposes.

No data is shown for each of the Nordic countries, as the distribution of international flows will depend on many factors, and there is no set country target level.

Target 10.c

By 2030, reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent


10.c.1Remittance costs as a proportion of the amount remitted

Global trends

Despite progress in recent years, the world is still far from the target of reducing remittance costs to less than 3%. The highest remittance costs (by receiving region) is in Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa, both above 8%.

The UN notes in its annual SDG progress report that digital remittances had a global average cost of 5.0%, with non-digital remittances at 6.7%. With just 27% of remittances being made digitally, there is hope for reducing remittance costs by facilitating more use of digital transfers.

The Nordics

Not enough data avaliable to gauge progress in the Nordic countries on the cost of sending remittances.

About the data

The data presented on global, regional, and national trends are from the UN SDG Global Database and the OECD unless otherwise stated.

The assessment of the Nordic countries is based on the findings from a recent OECD report, published in April 2022. The OECD uses a three-tier classification for each target:

  • Target is achieved or on track to being achieved
  • Progress has been made, but is insufficient to meet the target
  • No progress or moving away from the SDG target

In its assessment, the OECD looks at a country's current performance towards a target, and calculates a trend towards 2030 based on recent progress. As such, a country that is close to a target, but trending away from it, will be classified as having "No progress or moving away from the SDG target". Conversely, a country that is currently further away from the target, but trending towards it (and has a high likelihood of reaching it before 2030), will be classified as "Target is achieved or on track to being achieved".


  • First release August 2022
  • Data and text update December 2022

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