Daniel Halliday
Sep 1 · Last update 14 days ago.

Why is the Nordic Model so successful, could this be emulated elsewhere?

The Nordic Model is a term used to describe the similar economic and social policies in place in the countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Each of these countries have their own distinctive social and economic models, however all share some similarities, they have all been associated with social democracy, share high living standards, while also ranking as some of the happiest and most equal countries in the world. How does social democracy remain so stable in this region? What has made the Nordic model so successful? And could this be replicated in other parts of the world?
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Not successful enough and needs to go much further
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Atheism
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Religion
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Only in similarly homogenous countries
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Strong labour movements
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No, it’s geographically limited and unsustainable
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Yes, equality equals a happier more productive society
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The Nordic misconception
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Cohesive social welfare within a free market
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Not successful enough and needs to go much further

Despite often being called it, the Nordic model is not socialist, and although there is a strong welfare system in these countries there is also lingering inequality that still need to be addressed. Nordic countries might not have an American level of inequality but poverty is definitely prevalent in these countries with poverty rates standing at 24.7% in Denmark, 31.9% in Finland, 21.6% in Iceland, 25.6% in Norway and 26.5% in Sweden. While they may have a better system and lower rates of poverty comparatively, they still have a quarter to a third of their respective societies living below the poverty line, and similar myths are propagated about gender equality and internationally lauded leftist issues. Nordic countries are all deeply capitalistic with market-based economies; arguably better regulation of markets and greater social ownership could help this go further and flatten out the inequality in Nordic societies even further.

www1.compareyourcountry.org/inequality?cr=usa&lg=en nationalreview.com/2018/03/scandinavian-gender-equality-myth-us-more-female-managers theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/09/despite-making-gains-swedens-far-right-party-remains-out-of-power austriancenter.com/shattering-myth-nordic-socialism fee.org/articles/the-myth-of-scandinavian-socialism aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.6.3.101

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 27
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Atheism

In Sweden, like many Scandinavian countries, it became law in the 16th century for all citizens to be Christian. However today 67% of the population are members of the Church of Sweden but with only 2% practicing the religion regularly, and up to 85% of the population identify as agnostic, atheist or a non-believer of some sort regardless of family ties or baptism. This trend has long been growing in Scandinavia with labour unions, political discussion clubs, reading associations, and even football associations and tennis clubs becoming popular in the 19th and 20th centuries and offering a national sense of community outside of the church and religion. The link between religion and the Nordic model seems fairly weak considering actual religious outlooks in the region, but what seems more likely is that with increased secular thought and growing education in these countries logic is increasingly displacing tradition and spirituality. Arguably this could have directly led to the more logical Nordic model that benefits all in society fairly.

reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1pnjpf/why_is_scandinavia_so_atheist nytimes.com/2009/02/28/us/28beliefs.html

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 27
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Religion

The reasons for the foundation of the Nordic model are numerous and complicated but many scholars have pointed to the influence of religion on the Scandinavian desire to take care of one another. The vast majority of citizens in these countries are part of the Lutheran Church, a austere protestant form of Christianity that advocates the bible as the only basis for religious belief, and this may have had an effect on the deeply held virtue of caring for the national community so deep in the heart of the Nordic welfare state. Author of the book ‘Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right – and How We Can, too’ has written extensively about the role of Christian faith in the mindset of the Nordic countries, that have enabled the caring role of the state, and national faith in it, to take root.

americamagazine.org/content/all-things/continuing-revelation-scandinavian-economies blogs.helsinki.fi/nord-wel/events/religion helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/41875/nordwel1.pdf?sequence=1#page=18 books.google.co.jp/books?id=4ChHcCoq7f0C&pg=PA102&redir_esc=y&hl=ja#v=onepage&q&f=false

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 27
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Only in similarly homogenous countries

The Nordic model has arisen from three societal factors that are not easy to emulate. All these countries have a long history of social democrat or labour party rule, all adhere to a liberal corporatist model were labour and management self organise without much government involvement, and most importantly all these countries have high levels of ethnic and cultural homogeneity. The level of national trust and cooperation is profoundly linked to this homogeneity and is imperative for these political outlooks and social structures to emerge. This might work well in other countries such as Japan, but a political shift would be needed as well as a deep strengthening of labour unions, which makes this largely cultural and too complex to emulate elsewhere.

sciencenordic.com/economics-researcher-zone-society--culture/what-the-world-can-learn-about-equality-from-the-nordic-model/1458593 routledge.com/Undoing-Homogeneity-in-the-Nordic-Region-Migration-Difference-and-the/Keskinen-Skaptadottir-Toivanen/p/book/9781138564275 aier.org/article/dismantling-the-myth-of-scandinavian-exceptionalism

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 26
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Strong labour movements

The Nordic countries rely heavily on labour unions having a higher density of union membership than anywhere in the world, with Iceland having the highest proportion of union membership at 90.4%. This high level of unionisation gives unions a lot of power and allows effective collective bargaining between labour unions and employer federations, helping to reduce labour-capital conflict and keeping the interests of both balanced. The strength of labour unions enables Nordic countries to maintain high labour force participation, maximising egalitarianism and worker empowerment while facilitating the labour market in remaining flexible, making it easier for employers to make labour or technologies changes to increase productivity. Strengthening labour unions in this way is a clear positive that could easily be emulated elsewhere in the world.

forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2019/05/06/the-state-of-global-trade-union-membership-infographic/#6076e06a2b6e nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Labor/Trade-union-membership archive.org/details/socialdemocracyw00hick_0 portal.research.lu.se/portal/files/19441202/Nordic_lights_kapitel_4_Bruhn_Kjellberg_Sandberg_Correct.pdf

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 26
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No, it’s geographically limited and unsustainable

Nordic countries are small, fostering higher levels of trust that enable the populous to be comfortable with paying a higher rate of tax, which is what enables their greater levels of social spending. This system would therefore be difficult to transpose to countries with much higher populations such as India or even the United States where there are just too many people to foster this level of trust. However more importantly the Nordic economies are somewhat limited by geography also, and this is something difficult and probably undesirable if trying to replicate. All Scandinavian nations are home to economies that are largely based on extractive industries, such as oil, minerals and forestry, not exactly the most sustainable future-proof economic model. But they are also geographically remote and subject to harsh weather, leaving them with low levels of food production and higher levels of food imports, again not sustainable or desirable.

theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/dec/01/why-scandinavia-is-not-the-model-for-global-prosperity-we-should-all-pursue nationalreview.com/2018/03/ten-reasons-we-cant-and-shouldnt-be-nordic

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 26
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Yes, equality equals a happier more productive society

The Nordic countries should be held up as a model of equality to the world, a model that the globe is very much in need of. Inequality is on the rise internationally with the World Economic Forum compiling a report from 700 experts claiming that rising income disparity is a near universal trend that will shape the foreseeable future, but some countries buck this trend and are generally happier and more productive for it. The Nordic countries, on average, score highly on welfare and development indices, as well as very low levels of corruption, this has the effect of making these countries more productive than the UK, France and Japan, while Norway even has a higher economic output per capita than the United States. The Nordic model is thought to use transparency and a high level of welfare to make citizens feel a greater sense of wellbeing, while higher levels of education and even taxation causes greater feelings of social solidarity, trust and cooperation.

americamagazine.org/content/all-things/continuing-revelation-scandinavian-economies sciencenordic.com/economics-researcher-zone-society--culture/what-the-world-can-learn-about-equality-from-the-nordic-model/1458593 theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/11/inequality-world-economy-wef-brexit-donald-trump-world-economic-forum-risk-report

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 26
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The Nordic misconception

Scandinavian countries and the Nordic model are often held up as examples of successful and prosperous socialist alternatives to capitalist states by progressive activists and politicians elsewhere in the world. But this often ignores the most important fact - that Scandinavian countries often stick far closer to a free market economy than many other countries, and this is the biggest reason for their success. However far from being duplicable elsewhere the stable welfare state paid for by Scandinavian taxpayers is widely considered to only be a reality due to the large economy of those countries, a large welfare state is not thought to lead to prosperity elsewhere but could be emulated after a state has prospered. However embracing a free market in the form of libertarianism would be a much better way forward for smaller economies trying to flourish, the free market is probably the only reason these countries haven’t fallen into a state of disrepute. Arguably other countries should seek to replicate the way Scandinavian countries became successful, not the social welfare they put in place afterwards.

necpluribusimpar.net/scandinavian-unexceptionalism-nima-sanandaji

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Daniel Halliday
Dec 23
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Cohesive social welfare within a free market

The reason the Nordic Model has been so successful is due to many varied factors, some maybe unique to the region, but they undoubtedly are all built upon a firm foundation socialist tinged capitalism, that is to say a cohesive and functional social welfare system operating inside a free market economy. This effective and extensive welfare system is paid for through high taxation, and remains stable largely due to a high degree of trust in politicians, something that is waning in many parts of the world currently. This occurs while the economy stays competitive by actually allowing for greater labour flexibility, making firing employees easier, and leading to the fostering of more business innovation, but due to the high functioning of the welfare system this is seen as a necessary trade off. All of this amounts to a rare combination that is unrealistic to try and replicate directly without some of the underlying factors that support its efficacy already in place.

investopedia.com/articles/investing/100714/nordic-model-pros-and-cons.asp

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Daniel Halliday
Sep 1
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