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Jobless growth?: Investigating the structure and geography of the labor force in the Swedish life science industry
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
2009 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Policy-makers, as well as scholars, are often positing the life science industry in general, and biotechnology in specific, as a future engine of economic growth. It is stipulated that growth in the industry ultimately will result in a major boost in national employment numbers. However, in the paper we primarily find that the Swedish life science industry (encompassing pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical technology firms) only stands for a small share of the total employment in Sweden. In the paper we argue that a focus on employment is not necessarily the most appropriate policy approach to assess the impacts of the life science industry on the overall economy. In the paper, the scope, structure and geography of the life science industry and its labour force in Sweden is mapped and analysed by using a unique set of data of about 1 200 firms and 54 000 employees. We find that the labour force in the industry have significantly higher education and income levels compared to national averages, as well as being heavily concentrated to larger metropolitan areas and major university cities. Although employing relatively few people and being more or less dependant on the inclusion and success of a small number of major pharmaceutical firms, we find that the industry may still have an important impact on the national economy. This is manifested by high levels of education, income, and export revenues, particularly in specific regions. As such, this paper contributes to the ongoing discussion on ‘jobless growth’.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Life science, jobless growth, Sweden
National Category
Social and Economic Geography Economic Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-110518OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-110518DiVA: diva2:277160
Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, Nevada, March 22-27, 2009.
Available from: 2009-11-16 Created: 2009-11-16 Last updated: 2012-03-01Bibliographically approved

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Waxell, Anders
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