The Problem with the Scandinavian ModelThe Problem with the Scandinavian Model
People respond to incentives. In a tiny, homogeneous country, group norms can take the place of monetary rewards. If you identify strongly with your neighbours then you care if they shun you. But the US is 50 times larger than Finland and very heterogeneous -- people here don't care much about what their neighbours think because 1) their neighbours are not neccessarily much like them and 2) they keep changing. In this kind of soceity group norms simply will not work. The fact that social norms play a significant role in the success of welfare states also point to these systems' weakness. As soon as the populations of these historically homogenous countries turn heterogenous due to immigration, the social norms soon become fractured between rival communities. Immigrants from radically different backgrounds were not supposed to be part of this closed system. Native citizens begin to see immigrants as a threat to this originally happy balance.
It cannot pay to work
It is hardly worth getting out of bed and going to work for many Danes, if the financial rewards of working are your most important criteria. Approximately 130,000 Danes earn 50 kroners a day more going to work than if they stayed at home and received social security cash benefits. The statistics come from the Treasury department, which is to revise a governmental agreement, "Back to Work", in the autumn. The Chancellor said that this would be a central point of discussion in the forthcoming revision of state cash benefits, and trade union unemployment subsidies.
An Immigrant's Tale
The interpreter also told us that Sweden is a country where the government will put a check into your mailbox each month if you don't work. She explained that there was no reason to get a job. Although my mother got several jobs, we concluded that this really didn't improve our family's economy. During the sixteen years we have been in Sweden, my mother has in total worked less than one year. The work ethic has dramatically fallen in Sweden. More and more people are finding ways of living off government as an alternative to working. Between 20 and 25 percent of the working age population does not work. Between 1997 and 2003 the number of people who were on sick leave increased by more than 200,000, a dramatic number for a small country such as Sweden. What can you expect in a country where 9 out of 10 females who are living off sick leave would have less money in their pockets if they went back to their jobs?
Skype founder slams "lazy" Swedes
Niklas Zennström, the Swede who made headlines last week for selling his Skype internet telephony company to Ebay in a multi-billion dollar deal, has slammed Sweden's high taxes and job protection and has laid into his fellow countrymen for being lazy. “Maybe this doesn’t work too well when the rest of the world is working hard,” he says. One reason for the shortage of successful IT companies is Swedes themselves: “People don’t work very hard in Sweden. They go home at five, and take the whole summer off work.” “If you go to China people work all day and try to create great things – they are much hungrier,” he says. Zennström, who left Sweden in the mid-nineties, also launched a barely veiled attack on the Swedish government. He slammed the Swedish business climate and wants reductions in bureaucracy, less job protection and lower taxes.
One million Swedes on benefit
Norwegian social benefits highest in Europe
Norway provides its citizens with the highest social security benefits of any country in Europe. This is shown by figures from the European statistics office Eurostat. The social benefits grants to Norwegians averaged 11,755 Euro in 2002, equal to NOK 93,200. This was NOK 37,700 higher than in Iceland, NOK 36,900 higher than in Finland, 19,200 higher than in Sweden and 12,300 higher than in Denmark. Compared with EU nations outside Scandinavia, the differences are even higher: According to Eurostat, the social benefits in Norway cost NOK 48,000 per citizen more than in Italy.