politician in a small town in northern Sweden recently suggested that it subsidize one-hour sex breaks for local employees. The politician, Per-Erik Muskos, 42, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party, said his proposal could help lift the town’s birthrate. Sexologists argued that state-funded sexual interludes could spice up marriages. As news of the idea spread, the scenic town of Overtornea was suddenly portrayed as the latest emblem of Scandinavia’s liberal values and generous welfare state. This week, however, the town’s 31-member council overwhelmingly rejected the proposal on the grounds that if sexual intercourse should be subsidized, then so should many other personal activities, such as gardening or cleaning. The issue of work-life balance is taken seriously in European countries. But critics of the Swedish proposal had argued that it was too intrusive and that it could have stigmatized some employees: those who were single, for example, or who did not feel like having sex.