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Interesting thought. I would suppose that if Denmark could be scaled up, the rest of Europe would have done so. Also, I wonder about immigration. The Nordic countries seem isolated from immigration, partly by location and partly by climate (Most poor immigrants come from warm climates and may not want to go to a cold one.) Ten years ago the US Census Bureau said that single mothers and immigrants contributed most to our poor. Does Denmark have a similar problem with legal and illegal immigration of poor folk? I would suspect that if they did, they would suffer similar problems as the US, Spain and France.

Some misunderstandings need to be cleared up here.

Ethnic homogeneity: While it is true that the Scandinavian countries were initially ethnically homogeneous, this is no longer the case, with the exception of Finland. In Sweden, more than 12% of the population was born outside the country, and 20% of the population are either first or second generation immigrants (Only Australia and Canada have higher rates of immigration among OECD countries). In Norway and Denmark, the percentages of foreign-born residents are in the 7-8% range, which is close to the European average. Important source countries (in Sweden) have recently been Bosnia, Turkey (Kurdistan),Iraq, Iran, Somalia, and Poland. Earlier waves included immigrants from Finland, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Vietnam, and Chile.

2: While Denmark and Sweden have the world's highest tax rates, other indicators of government point in a different direction. According to the Economic Freedom Index, Iceland is one of the 10 freest economies, Denmark and Finland two of the twenty freest, and Sweden is ranked as the 23d freest (same rank as Taiwan).

3 While the Scandinavian governments redistribute a lot of money, the governments are less corrupt and less bureaucratic than in many other countries (e.g. it takes less than 5 minutes to fill out a typical annual income tax assessment form in Sweden)


A fourth positive factor that Pete did not mention was the dominant religion that underpinned (or used to underpin) a strong work ethic. If that is slipping then the Scandanavian nations may be approaching a tipping point with the dilution of racial and religious homogeneity. The use of tax evasion to mitigate the impact of taxation suggests that their moral capital may be running down.

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