Are Nordic Nations Utopias?
Scandinavian countries – Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden are considered to have a high global ranking in which they exceed in happiness, lack of corruption, gender equality, and they eat more organic vegetables. Are we becoming blinded by the amazing Northern Lights that we don’t see what is actually happening in Scandinavia? Actually, they are slipping in the Best of The World rankings. Some of the employees are being paid at 2.5 times what the same employee in the US is being paid, but the employee has to pay out 75% of their earnings for income and consumption taxes. So, they are not actually getting more pay. Unemployment is a lot higher than in the US (5.6%), Sweden (8.1%), Finland (8.9%), and Denmark (6.4%).
Even though Denmark has been labeled the Happiest Country it is being surpassed by other countries like Panama, Costa Rica, and Fiji it is still a great place to live.
Norway seems to be showing a declining economy for the first time since the 1970’s. The oil boom may have had a cause to this decline due to a decline in oil prices. The previous workaholic country has been slowly becoming lazy by taking more time off, sick days, and longer vacations. Cheaper foreign laborers are now working in the fish processing factories because it is not popular to work there any longer. These foreign laborers – outsiders – are not tolerated by the citizens.
Increased racial tension in Sweden is now struggling with the bombings of mosques. They have an open-door immigration policy which may be resulting in the increase in these types of crimes. When the Sweden Democratic party came into power, they may have seen a rise in the gagged right wing. The country has also seen a rise in youth unemployment rates, a slowing economy, and increased state and household debt.
After the 2008 global crisis Denmark took the biggest hit over its neighbors. It has the highest taxes in the world that fund their welfare and the highest household debt in Europe. They have been known to have the best free education and health care, but it may not be as good as we have been led to believe. The schools are losing their high ranking and the country has the highest cancer rates. Like Norway the people of Denmark want to work less hours in a year.
Iceland is finding itself in a social cohesion that led them to bankruptcy of the entire country. People were taking out reckless loans in yen and mortgages in Swiss francs which brought the country down. They are in recovery, but they still owe a lot of money and most outsiders are not eager to loan them money.
After the European Union put sanctions on Ukraine and the loss of trade with Russia, Finland is now in a economic down turn. The prime minister blames iPad for the loss of Nokia and the loss of their paper industry. Finland suffers from a high homicide rate and alcohol is the number one cause of death for the working people.
Even though these countries have their faults they do have better freedoms for people of different backgrounds. Their crime rates are lower in Scandinavia, there is better public transportation and low-cost day care. Before you decide to move to one of these countries take into account the they have higher cases of depression, violence against women, and higher consumption of antidepressants and alcohol. They also have the highest tax rates in the world and its very expensive to live there.
Americans that live in these Scandinavian countries find it hard to understand why the people do not talk about their ambitions or boast about their family’s accomplishments like we do here in the states.