The Real Nordic Model

Ezra Klein is singing the praises of the Nordic model, and with good reason: the Nordic countries have done pretty well along a lot of important metrics. But let’s not forget that two-thirds of Swedish fifteen-year-olds live with both biological parents. That’s true of less than half of American fifteen-year-olds.

Might this have something to do with the higher level of economic security?

And of course the key difference between Swedes and Americans when it comes to the distribution of income is that our rich are far richer. The Swedish poor are better off in terms of the quality of public goods, though its perhaps more accurate to say that poor Swedes have no choice when it comes to consuming some public goods whereas poor Americans do, e.g., poor Americans who never sign up for Medicaid. I happen to think all poor Americans should be automatically enrolled in such programs. But this is a question of values.

Also, let’s not forget that the “Nordic model” includes liberalized pensions and school choice and broad-based (some would say regressive!) consumption taxes.

So yes, I like the Nordic model too: strong families, choice in public services, and consumption taxes. There are other things I don’t like: a closed labor market (which essentially bans a lot of immigrant labor), stultifying homogeneity, and wealth taxes that drive entrepreneurs overseas.