Nordic Countries Increasingly Giving Welfare State the Cold Shoulder

As Reason's J.D. Tuccille noted earlier today, putatitively socialist Swedes are increasingly turning to private insurance to reduce long wait times and rationed health care services. It's not simply in medicine that Sweden is moving toward market-based models. As Johnny Munkhammar detailed in 2005's European Dawn: After the Social Model, the country started cutting government spending as a percentage of GDP in the 1990s and that has proceeded apace.

Nor is it only Sweden that is giving a cold shoulder to the welfare state. AFP reports that throughout the Nordic countries, the size and scope of government is being cut as "nations find themselves cash-strapped." Consider, for example, Denmark, whose leader is best known to Americans for taking a selfie with Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's funeral:

When her Social Democratic government took power in 2011, there was little to suggest Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt would make any dramatic changes to the country's cherished welfare state -- funded by the world's highest tax burden.

After a centre-right government had raised the retirement age and reduced the unemployment benefits period from four to two years, "Gucci Helle" -- as she is known among her detractors -- went on to cut corporate taxes to 22 percent from 25 percent.

Other reforms have included requiring young people on benefits to undertake training, and withdrawing student aid to those taking too long to finish their studies.

Finland is moving to trim similar sorts of programs as well. According to AFP, only Norway is likely not to tackle serious entitlement reform because of its vast oil wealth and because, ironically, it's got a conservative government: "New centre-right Prime Minister Erna Solberg has pledged to preserve the welfare state."

Read the whole thing here.

Hat tip: Margaret (Griffis) O'Brien

Back in 2010, Reason TV surveyed Sweden's powerful moves to rein in government spending and liked what we saw. Watch "Sweden: A Supermodel for America?":

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  • Mainer2||

    My progressive friends always say we should be more like Europe.

  • Brian||

    They typically pick and choose when they mean that, and when they don't.

    Also, since Europe isn't homogeneous, it's frequently an incoherent statement.

    I'd suggest calling it "Europhilia" except that it's a love of a fantasy Europe, instead of reality.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Dammit, somebody already registered pornafish.com. I wanted to use it for an idea, but now nobody will ever get to see what that was.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Won't they feel like assholes when America becomes the new utopia.

  • jdgalt||

    You mean when monkeys fly out my butt?

  • ||

    Oh look, even a highly homogenous society finds that socialism doesn't work. But at least as a homogenous society they're pretty good at recognizing that fact and acting on it.

  • Killaz||

    It only took two generations of socialism to burn through 400 years of wealth accumulated through capitalist means.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "cut corporate taxes to 22 percent from 25 percent"

    Whopping.

  • Dweebston||

    At least they're turning the screws in the right direction. Leftist here only want them ground down tighter and tighter.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Math is inexorable.

  • Paul.||

    And racist.

  • db||

    "Math is hard!"

    "Math is racist!"

    :. "Racism is hard!"

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I wanted to use it for an idea, but now nobody will ever get to see what that was.

    At least no FREE RIDERZ will glom on to your profits by copying your shit.

  • widget||

    It turns out that some Swedes don't want to stand in line behind the Africans they imported to get socialized healthcare. The most Progressive people on the planet, they are.

  • ||

    Quebec looks to Scandinavia for its social models.

    Problem is Quebec can't pay for it either.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    With the rest of Canada pitching in, they will be able to pay for any socialist scheme they can think of.

  • Killaz||

    Then when Quebec reaches that goal, they can join in. What could go wrong with a plan that logical?

  • Drake||

    That corporate tax is far better than our 39% plus any state tax that can't be written off against it. I'll get more excited when the 25% VAT isn't around to crush the life out of their economies.

    These countries are about the size of medium American states without the overhead of a federal government yet (the EU will get there). They should be more efficient and nimble with their policies and services. If only we still believed in a small federal government.

  • ||

    only Norway is likely not to tackle serious entitlement reform because of its vast oil wealth and because, ironically, it's got a conservative government

    Why the fuck does anyone think conservative European parties are in anyway related or hold any ideological similarities to small government conservatives in the US?

  • widget||

    Demographics.

  • Paul.||

    Makes for easy article ledes and soundbites.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "because of its vast oil wealth"

    I'm pretty sure those Vikings owe me some reparations.

  • ||

    Why the fuck does anyone think conservative American parties are in anyway related or hold any ideological similarities to small government conservatism?

  • db||

    Ikea should be ashamed for such a stunt and should have to buy carbon credits to.compensate for the environmental impact.of.all the extra emissions caused.by their tasteless "joke."

  • jdgalt||

    I give up: What does the idiotic April Fools allen-wrench stunt have to do with this article?

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