Equality [Paperback]

Carsten Jensen (Author)

ISBN: 9788772193267 | Published by: Aarhus University Press | Series: Nordic World | Year of Publication: 2021 | Language: English 120p, H220 x W145 (mm)



In study after study, Denmark is ranked the least corrupt country in the world, with the other Nordic countries always close behind. As such, these states suffer considerably less from corruption’s destructive effects - chronic underdevelopment, the draining of valuable

national resources, limited access to essential services, starvation, poverty and health crises.

When the law does not apply to all and those with the means can bribe officials when necessary, most of the population lose all desire and motivation to follow official rules. The result is an overwhelmingly dysfunctional state.

This book argues that it is no coincidence that Denmark is the least corrupt country in the world, as well as one of the wealthiest and happiest. Researchers and international organizations, and Francis Fukuyama in particular, now point to Scandinavia, and Denmark especially, as a model of a prosperous and well-functioning state. But if “getting to Denmark” is the goal of other countries, how can they achieve that? What is the secret formula to the Nordic countries? Rising inequality is one of the most prominent characteristics of the modern age of globalised economies. To some observers, inequality is a natural consequence of economic growth that ought to be accepted to ensure a prosperous future. To others, rising inequality is a cause for alarm – not just because it is unfair, but also because it can create serious social tensions. As Pope Francis has said, “inequality is the root of social evil.” The Nordic countries stand out in part due to their relatively low levels of inequality. By most measures, these are the most egalitarian places in the world today. This feat has been achieved while retaining capitalist market economies with a flourishing private business sector and entrenched property rights: the Nordics consistently rank among the best not only when it comes to equality, but also in terms of a business-friendly environment.

This book delves into what is exceptional about equality in the Nordic region. It starts out by outlining “the four equalities” that make the Nordic countries special: economic equality (the distance between the poor and rich is relatively low), inter-generational equality (success in life is not dependent on the status of one’s parents), gender equality (women are highly integrated into the labor market and independent from the family) and health equality (the poor have access to the same medical treatments as the well-off). A core point of the book is that we need to appreciate all four types of equalities to get the full picture of equality in the Nordic countries. After this presentation, the rest of the book is dedicated to understanding the origins behind this particular outcome: Why did the Nordic countries develop into such an egalitarian society and how has it been possible to combine this with strong economic growth? The answer lies in the unique political settlements that were made in the 20th century and which formed the special social market economies of these countries, and which affect growth and equality even today.

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