General Question

Yellowdog's avatar

Does the Nordic model of Social Democracy still work?

Asked by Yellowdog (12183points) March 1st, 2019

And would it work in North America?

Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, the Faeroes, Iceland, and similar Social Democracies in the Baltic nations and the Netherlands.

Did they work in their respective countries, and would they work in North America?

I wrote a dissertation about this region en lieu of the foreign language requirement when I was in college in 1989, and although I did write about the economies and culture I really didn’t emphasize the type of government and economies per se’ because I wasn’t much into these things—just the histories and culture but no real depth into the economies. My feelings about the topic at the time was ambivalent.

It seems most people that are pushing a different model of socialism for the U.S. I think they are aiming for the Social Democracy model. So if they could do that, would it work?

I have no strong beliefs on this topic and that’s why I’m asking. I just hate to see the burgeoning Blue Collar economy which seems to be healthy messed with. I AM interested in if the Nordic Model works.

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13 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

The people living in those social democracies seem convinced that they work very well.

Zaku's avatar

Yes. It works very well. I’d much prefer to live in such a situation. And I’d much rather see the US move a lot farther in that direction.

ragingloli's avatar

They work splendidly.
The biggest problem though is corporate shills trying their hardest to undermine and dismantle those systems.

Brian1946's avatar


What are some of the ways that they’re trying to sabotage them?

ragingloli's avatar

Privatisation of essential infrastructure, and the proliferation of “temporary employment”, the latter being bad, because you do not get any employment protection, you earn so little that it does not count towards your social security and retirement benefits, and you often have to apply for additional unemployment benefits to actually make a living.

seawulf575's avatar

I think in smaller nations (population-wise), it can work. But I know some of them, such as Sweden, are felt the burden of that model. Sweden had a good economy before socialization. That helped. Then they started socializing everything. The government put all sorts of hidden taxes and other taxes that penalized the companies. Several big companies left altogether because they were not profitable, or not as profitable as they should be. Sweden has started changing their rules, allowing companies to run themselves….effectively moving away from socialism. Another problem they have seen is a huge need for workers….government workers…to administer their government programs as the population increases. Right now the problem seems to be the government is competing with private industries for the workers. This article points out the issue of needing workers.

this is a fascinating video about Sweden. It’s a bit long, but is very informative. I think there are a lot of misconceptions Americans have about Sweden. But in the end, in answer to the question, no, it would not work in the US. The problem is not how Sweden runs things…it is the attitudes of Americans and the US government. Sweden is working well now because their government lowered taxes from what they had been, established programs that ran themselves and didn’t rely on the government to make all the decisions, that actually taxes the poor more than they are in the US. Their people have an attitude that as long as the companies are working, the people are working and the companies have the attitudes that as long as the workers are happy, they are more loyal and effective. Labor unions and businesses are not adversarial. Many of the governmental decisions are not made at the federal level…they are made at the local levels. This includes healthcare. For this sort of thing to work in the US, the government would have to (a) start addressing problems instead of politics and (b) release control and power.
Amazingly, many of their strengths are already in our Constitution…we just choose to try changing them all the time. Our nation was designed with most of the power supposed to be at the state level with the federal government stepping back. We continually try reversing that.

Yellowdog's avatar

@seawulf575 I think it works very well in Iceland and the Faeroes, where populations are small and there is already a strong sense of cooperation and community. And less well in places where the populations are disjointed and divided.

We can have mutual cooperation in The States but only if everyone has a strong sense of who they are identity wise, what their intended roles and goals are, and respect and understanding of what works for everyone else.

Contrary to what some here have said on another thread, the current economic recovery is benefiting Blue Collar manufacturing types, and private business owners, the most. But some who struggle such as unskilled / low skill work like fast food workers, still struggle to fulfill their goals and dreams, and its this sense of fairness which I think people yearn for a social democracy over, rather than capitalism where a few have scads of wealth.

seawulf575's avatar

In the one video I listed, it is interesting to me when they talk to some of the private citizens. For example, they were talking to some of the retirees. The state pensions are not set in stone. They fluctuate. When the state is doing good, they go up and when it is struggling, they go down. In the US people would be screaming if someone tried shrinking the money they were getting. The answer there is “well, it’s just how things fluctuate.”. No angst, no anger…just understanding that it has to happen or the whole thing fails. It really does come down to the attitude of the people.

stanleybmanly's avatar

They can afford a casual attitude regarding fluctuating rates. The typical American on the other hand is walking a tightrope whereby a reduction in income may well mean catastrophe.

LostInParadise's avatar

Here is an article by someone who migrated to the U.S. from Finland. Finland has a high level of taxes, for which they get, quoting from the article,

nearly a full year of paid parental leave for each child (plus a smaller monthly payment for an additional two years, were I or the father of my child to choose to stay at home with our child longer), affordable high-quality day care for my kids, one of the world’s best public K-12 education systems, free college, free graduate school, nearly free world-class health care delivered through a pretty decent universal network, and a full year of partially paid disability leave

Seems like a pretty good deal. I don’t see why it could not work equally as well in a larger country.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It can’t possibly work if you countenace billionaires.

Yellowdog's avatar

Unless they’re summer tourists.

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