Socialism and Prosperity in the Nordic Countries

The United States Democratic Party has been praising the economic arrangement in Nordic nations for a very long time. Right from Bill Clinton to President Obama, they were all fans of the so-called Nordic socialism and wanted to introduce the model in America as well. The Democratic primaries were riddled with both Hillary Clinton as well as Bernie Sanders continuously making references to the benefits that Nordic socialism is likely to provide to the nation.

This has been of particular interest to Americans. Generations of Americans have grown up abhorring socialism and preaching the benefits of capitalism. Also, the Nordic socialism argument is being widely used worldwide to increase the size of the government. In this article, we will debunk the myths of the so-called “Nordic Socialism”

Nordic Countries are not Socialistic

All over the world, proponents of socialism repeatedly claim that Nordic countries are proof that socialism works. However, it would be wrong to say that because Nordic countries are not socialistic at all. The do have higher taxation and provide higher levels of health care and welfare. However, that is where the socialism ends. When it comes to ownership of means of production, the Nordic countries are some of the freest markets in this world. The businesses are allowed to be owned by private individuals and run without major regulatory hassles. The President of Sweden had to begin his address by correcting American students that Sweden is not a socialist country as claimed by Democrats in the Presidential debate.

Prosperity in Nordic Countries is the Result of Socialism

Firstly, none of the Nordic countries have any history of socialism except the notable example of Sweden. Sweden was socialistic for a period of about two decades in the 70’s and 80’s which were clearly the worst period in their economic history. Between 1970 and 1991, Sweden’s brief experiment with socialism had all but destroyed the economy with plunging growth rates and record unemployment levels. It is only after Sweden and the other Nordic countries became market-oriented that their economies began to prosper. Today, they are as capitalistic as the United States only with higher taxation rates and better facilities provided by the government.

Better Health Care as a Result of Socialism

The people of United States are struggling to have access to a basic healthcare system. As a result, the Nordic socialism model is often peddled as being the perfect cure to their problems. However, it needs to be understood that the better healthcare outcomes that are usually cited predate the creation of the welfare state in these Nordic countries. These systems were already in place even before the high tax high welfare governments started functioning.

The Nordic people have always had higher life expectancy rates, lower child mortality rates and so on. This may be because of the healthy lifestyle that they have in these countries or could be related to their genetics.

To give even more proof, Iceland is the country in the Nordics with the lowest healthcare budget, and yet it has the best outcomes whereas Denmark has the biggest budget and still lags behind other Scandinavian peers. This should make it clear that the so-called Nordic socialism has very little to do with the better healthcare system that is in place in these countries.

Less Divergence in Incomes

The Nordic socialism is often given during the debate that 1% of the population in America nearly owns the entire country. This is not the case in Nordic countries and may have something to do with Nordic socialism. Once again, there is no statistical evidence to justify any of these claims. In fact, there is statistical evidence available to deny these claims. This is because the income equality in these countries once again predates the welfare state arrangement that has once started lately


On paper, the Nordic socialism model might appear appealing to many social groups. For instance, women can continue to work and earn high wages since the state provides a public system for child care. However, the Nordic socialism has already lost its shimmer in the Nordic states. True, that they are happier and have better lifestyles than most Americans, but there still are a lot of problems, and socialism has created many.

Worker productivity is at an all-time low because of the generous sick leave insurance system in place. There is no epidemic going on in these Nordic countries. However, people still take a lot of sick leaves because they are free! Anyone who doesn’t take sick leave is not better off and hence feels like they are missing out on freebies.

Hence, it doesn’t seem like being born in the Nordic countries is like winning the lottery of life! It is true that Nordic countries are avoiding most of the social evils that plague the rest of the world. In fact, they are always at the top of any list that mentions good governance. This is even more astonishing given the fact that they have achieved this foot in harsh weather conditions and with just a handful of people as their citizens!

But, as it can be seen from this article, the source of this success is more rooted in their culture rather than a socialist ideology.

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