Sweden

2015-09-02

in Canada, Economics, Law, Politics, Travel

As a long-time student of politics, I often find myself wondering if Sweden simply has public policy basically figured out and everyone else is just screwing it up or governed by self-interested elites.

Would nearly all countries be better off imprisoning their politicians and high-level civil servants, bringing in some Swedish politicians and bureaucrats, and then having the newcomers exact sensible public policies across the board?

After finishing my PhD at U of T, the idea of moving to Sweden for at least 2-3 years has a lot of appeal at the moment.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

. September 2, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Critical Book Review: Steinmo, Sven. “The Evolution of Modern States.” (2010)

. September 8, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Vattenfall confirms early closure of Ringhals units

Although the co-owners of Sweden’s Ringhals nuclear power plant -Vattenfall and EOn – have yet to agree on the early closure of units 1 and 2, majority owner Vattenfall has said it will limit investment in those units which will mean they can only operate until 2020.

. September 8, 2015 at 1:22 pm

“Ringhals unit 1 is an 878 MWe boiling water reactor (BWR) which started operating in 1976 and had been due to be closed in 2026, while unit 2 is an 807 MWe pressurized water reactor (PWR) that began operation in 1975 and scheduled to shut down in 2025. Ringhals 3 and 4 are larger PWRs that started up in the early 1980s.”

. September 9, 2015 at 11:00 am
. March 13, 2016 at 8:16 pm

In recent days, the president has taken to joking privately, “All I need in the Middle East is a few smart autocrats.” Obama has always had a fondness for pragmatic, emotionally contained technocrats, telling aides, “If only everyone could be like the Scandinavians, this would all be easy.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/

. April 25, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Global Integrity, an NGO, says that though 43 of 54 African countries it follows have rules against cronyism, only Botswana tends to appoint bureaucrats based on “professional criteria”. Some development wonks naively promoted the Weberian model, without building up capacity to implement it. “We went into countries and said you need to be more like Denmark,” says Mr Srivastava. “So countries changed their laws to look like Denmark’s—but then nothing would happen.”

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21694553-countries-are-trying-harder-recruit-best-bureaucrats-not-hard-enough-mandarin

. July 15, 2016 at 8:11 pm

Bjorn Lyrvall, Sweden’s ambassador, says he is flattered by the attention, but some Scandinavians are slightly irritated by Mr Sanders’s praise. According to Daniel Schatz, a visiting fellow at Columbia University, his country’s economic success is due to its sound institutions and social cohesion, rather than the welfare state so admired by Mr Sanders. During the heyday of Swedish socialism and big government, Sweden’s economic growth actually fell from second in the world in 1970 to the second-lowest in the OECD in 1990. The country recovered only after it decentralised, deregulated its economy and lowered its punishing tax rates.

. December 22, 2016 at 8:01 pm

In part, Sweden is a victim of its own generosity and success. No European country has a larger proportion of refugees in its population and in 2015 none welcomed a larger flow of asylum-seekers, proportionate to its population, than Sweden did. Employment rates for refugees are no lower than in most European countries, but the difference with Swedish-born workers is striking. Partly it is because many Swedish-born women work and Swedes are highly educated. Nevertheless, fears are mounting about the social impact of the two-tier labour market that is developing. Magnus Henrekson, an academic, fears further ghettoisation and alienation.

On the surface, Sweden has one of the least troubled labour markets in the world. The economy is growing, vacancies are plentiful, only 5% of 15-74-year-old native-born workers are jobless and the unemployment rate is falling. But foreign-born workers are three times as likely to be unemployed, and the ratio is rising. For those from outside the EU it is higher still (22.5% are unemployed). Hidden discrimination, housing problems and a Swedish reliance on informal networks help explain the gap. But many refugees simply lack the skills for Sweden’s job market.

The concerns reflect changes in Sweden’s employment market. Fewer than 5% of jobs are now low-skilled, requiring less than a high-school qualification, compared with 9% in Germany and 16% in Spain. Countries such as Greece and Italy have larger shadow economies, helping explain why refugees there have higher employment levels than natives. “High-school diplomas are Sweden’s biggest divider,” says Anna Breman, chief economist at Swedbank. Nearly all Swedes have them, yet only half of new arrivals do, according to government statistics.

The paradox, says Thomas Liebig, from the OECD, is that Sweden has among the most advanced refugee-integration policies. A two-year programme is meant to make refugees “job-ready”, but is often too long for educated refugees and too short for those lacking basic literacy and numeracy. Only 22% of low-educated foreign-born men and 8% of women found work in the year after completing the programme. On average it takes seven to eight years for newcomers to find employment. According to a survey in 2014, across Europe it takes refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection 20 years to reach employment rates similar to natives. This contrasts with America, where research has shown that refugees find work faster than other immigrants, and even do better than economic migrants over time.

. June 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Sweden commits to becoming carbon neutral by 2045 with new law

Sweden has committed to cutting its net carbon emissions to zero by 2045, becoming the first country to significantly upgrade its carbon ambitions since the Paris accord in 2015.

The law was drawn up by a cross-party committee and passed with an overwhelming majority in parliament by 254 votes to 41.

The legislation establishes an independent Climate Policy Council and requires an action plan to be updated every four years.

Sweden had previously committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. It already gets 83 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy and hydropower, having met its 2020 target of 50 per cent renewable energy eight years ahead of schedule.

. February 25, 2018 at 11:09 pm

To explore the role of genes Dr Salvatore and Dr Kendler turned to the Swedish national registries. These databases store, for all residents of Sweden, information on sex, year of birth, year of death, marital status, criminal activity, education and alcohol abuse. They also contain details of both the biological and the adoptive parents of adopted children.

. September 9, 2018 at 11:34 pm

Swedish election: political uncertainty looms after deadlock
Far-right Sweden Democrats set to play kingmaker as vote leaves two main blocs both short of a majority

Sweden: far right surge upends Europe’s most stable political order
The Sweden Democrats fail to win power – but could make or break a minority government

Sweden’s shift to the right has been decades in the making
Kenan Malik

. November 23, 2019 at 1:33 am

LGBT travel index puts Sweden top, and warns against some popular destinations

Canada and Norway make top three of new ranking for gay and trans travellers, which also warns of ill-treatment in some countries favoured by tourists

. December 17, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Swedish support for nuclear continues to grow, poll shows

As many as 78% of people surveyed in Sweden – up from 71% in 2017 – strongly support nuclear energy, 43% are open to the construction of new nuclear power plants, and 35% would like to continue using the country’s reactors for their full operating lives, a survey by Novus and published by Analysgruppen shows. In contrast, only 11% of those polled are opposed to nuclear power.

. December 24, 2019 at 3:54 pm

Immigrants are a burden only if a host country’s policies set them up to be one, by making it too easy to draw benefits or too hard to work. Sweden committed both these errors with asylum-seekers during the European migrant crisis in 2015-16, showering them with free stuff while forcing them to remain idle for long periods. This was not sustainable, and the government curbed the flow of refugees by five-sixths.

. January 28, 2020 at 11:13 am

The example of eastern Europe suggests that a recent agrarian past is another dog booster. America has that too: dog ownership is heaviest in the heartland. Averse to regulation, it also disdains the dog-precluding rules of northern European places such as Sweden, where canines cannot be left alone for more than six hours.

. January 28, 2020 at 11:42 am

In Sweden, billionaires are surprisingly popular

The land of ABBA and Ikea has high wealth inequality

If surprisingly few Swedes hanker for punitive taxes on the rich, that is also because many have concluded that they do not work. Sweden introduced wealth taxation in 1911, followed by three big increases in 1934, 1948 and 1971. By the early 1980s Swedes with a household wealth of about $600,000 (in today’s prices) faced a marginal tax rate of 4%. Combined with heavy taxation of income, the effective tax rate on investment exceeded 100% in some cases.

Despite these punitive rates, wealth taxation only made a minor contribution to Sweden’s generous welfare state—at most during the post-war period, it raised 0.4% of gdp. From the 1970s onwards its popularity waned. Kamprad fled to Switzerland in 1973; Hans Rausing, whose father founded Tetra Pak, a packaging firm (and who died earlier this year), escaped to Britain in the 1980s. By that decade “people could with impunity evade the tax,” argue Magnus Henrekson and Gunnar Du Rietz, two economists, not least because of the relaxation of foreign-exchange controls in 1989.

The inclusion of various exemptions—including the exemption of holdings of land and forest from 1991—increased the complexity of the administration of the tax. With bipartisan support, Sweden abolished the inheritance tax in 2005 and the wealth tax in 2007. Before long, Kamprad returned.

. May 1, 2020 at 9:23 pm

Inherent in Sweden’s social contract is trust in the state, trust by the state in its citizens and trust among citizens, explains Lars Tragardh, a historian. Swedes can be relied on to adhere to rules voluntarily and to self-regulate. Moreover, jokes Carl Bildt, a former prime minister, “Swedes, especially of the older generation, have a genetic disposition to social distancing anyway.” Over half of Swedish households consist of just one person, the highest number of single-person households in the world. The country is sparsely populated. And Swedes do not kiss or hug as much as southern Europeans tend to do.

. June 19, 2020 at 9:27 pm

One answer is that although, for some outsiders, Scandinavia is a beacon of social democracy, the reality of life is darker and more complicated. Social pressure to conform, the near-endless winters, the poverty and depression behind the sleek prosperity, rising xenophobia—all these drawbacks and more are explored by Wendy Lesser in her lively, perceptive guide to Scandi noir. Sweden’s smugness, she says, conceals a murky past. Its post-war wealth is rooted in wartime trade with Nazi Germany, to which the Swedes sold steel to make Panzer tanks and the ball-bearings on which their tracks turned.

. October 15, 2020 at 1:44 pm

Sweden to increase military spending by 40% as tension with Russia grows | Sweden | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/15/sweden-to-increase-military-spending-by-40-as-tension-with-russia-grows

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