Reason Podcast

America Should be More Like Sweden. But Not for the Reasons You Think: Podcast

Johan Norberg's new documentary shows how the Nordic nation traded stagnant socialism for a modern mixed economy


Should America be more like Sweden? Have the Swedes figured out how to combine a cradle-to-grave welfare state with a prosperous, modern economy? Swedish author Johan Norberg stars in a new documentary that debunks outdated myths about the Scandinavian nation, arguing that the country that gave us Ingmar Bergman and IKEA has a lot to teach the U.S.—but not for the reasons that most people think.

Norberg's grand tour of his homeland reveals a country steeped in classical liberalism. Americans may be surprised to learn that Sweden's experiment with socialism was a relatively brief flirtation, lasting about 20 years and ending in disillusionment and reform.

Sweden began rolling back government in the early 1990s, recapturing the entrepreneurial spirit that made it a wealthy country to begin with. High taxation and a generous array of government benefits are still around. But now it's also a nation of school vouchers, free trade, open immigration, light business regulation, and no minimum wage laws.

Sweden: Lessons for America can be seen on public television stations starting tomorrow. A listing of airtimes is here.

Interview by Todd Krainin.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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