The issue of work-life balance is taken seriously in European countries. France, for example, which already has a 35-hour workweek, recently introduced legislation granting employees a “right to disconnect.” 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.

Tomas Mortberg, a member of the Overtornea council from a right-leaning party, said the state had no business poking its nose into employees’ sex lives.

“We don’t see this as a health and wellness-promoting activity, just like gardening isn’t,” he said in a phone interview. “The break should be used for a walk or going to a gym. A love act with your loved one should be done in your own free time, not during paid work hours.”

In its decision, the council also rejected Mr. Muskos’s argument that state-subsidized sexual excursions during working hours would encourage couples to have more children. It said that Overtornea’s dwindling population was not a result of too little sexual activity, but of young people leaving the town in search of opportunity or prosperity.

Mr. Muskos said that he was unhappy that his proposal had been rejected, but that he was not surprised. He said he remained convinced that if his idea had caught on, it would have buttressed romantic relationships, benefited busy couples with children, and empowered women by giving them time to ensure they were sexually satisfied. “I expected this. But I am disappointed,” he said.

Sexologists also expressed dismay that the council had not seen public good in the proposal.

Malin Hansson of the University of Gothenburg said research showed that Swedish parents with small children had a separation rate of about 30 percent, and that more time for sex would improve intimacy and a feeling of togetherness.

Malena Ivarsson, whose advice on sex and relationships has made her a well-known voice in Sweden, said the proposal could have been especially beneficial for professional couples, though she warned that one hour for sex might not be enough time for women to “switch gears and get in the mood.”

Even the skeptics in Overtornea acknowledged that something positive had come from the debate. Tomas Vedestig, a left-leaning councilman, said he was fed up with the global attention the proposal had generated. But he added: “We talk more openly about sex and relationships now. It is no longer taboo.”

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