Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Nima Sanandaji, a Swedish-Kurdish scholar--Phd Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm--corrects a few myths about the benevolence of welfare state policies. Particularly those held by left-leaning pop stars, politicians, journalists, political commentators and academics who've long praised Scandinavian success stories supposedly caused by the welfare state.

Sanandaji says the successes came before the welfare state was implemented. Mostly prior to 1970, when those countries were largely capitalist democracies.
Scandinavia's more equal societies also developed well before the welfare states expanded. Income inequality reduced dramatically during the last three decades of the 19th century and during the first half of the 20th century. Indeed, most of the shift towards greater equality happened before the introduction of a large public sector and high taxes.
When they implemented 'safety nets,' things began to deteriorate. And in some Scandinavian countries, when the people realized what was happening they demanded a return to normalcy, as it were, in the 1990s. However, the song may have ended, but the damage lingers on;
The development of Scandinavian welfare states has led to a deterioration in social capital. .... A survey from 2001 showed that 44 per cent believed that it was acceptable to claim sickness benefits if they were dissatisfied with their working environment.  Other studies have pointed to increases in sickness absence due to sporting events. For instance, absence among men due to sickness increased by 41 per cent during the 2002 football World Cup.
Back in 1981-84, surveys of Swedes showed 82% agreement with the statement, 'claiming government benefits to which you are not entitled is never justified.' By 2010-14 that was down to 55%.

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