Social Trust in the Nordic World [Paperback]

Gert Tinggaard Svendsen (Author)

ISBN: 9788772195926 | Published by: Aarhus University Press | Year of Publication: 2022 | Language: English 120p, H22 x W14 (mm) 15 Colour illustrations
Status: Not yet published - advance orders taken

Social Trust in the Nordic World


Why does Scandinavia perform so well both economically and socially compared to the rest of the world? Study after study has shown that Scandinavia is the most trusting region in the world - Danes in particular trust other people, including strangers, as well as formal institutions like the government, the legal system, the police and the state bureaucracy, more than citizens of any other country do. And countries with deep pools of social trust are populated by people who trust each other in ways that allow public and private institutions to function more efficiently and cheaply.

Could it be that the Nordic countries' high level of social trust could be just as important for creating prosperity and happiness within a population as other, more tangible economic factors? And if so, where does this stock of social trust in Scandinavia come from? Does it help to explain the development of the universal Nordic welfare states and their surprisingly high competitiveness? And can lessons be learned and applied to settings where social trust levels are low or in danger of being eroded?

In addition to highlighting the economic value of social trust, this book also warns that its benefits should never be taken for granted. Trust can erode and vanish quickly, and once it is gone, it is very difficult to recover. Worryingly, governments and corporations are gradually increasing their control over people’s public and private lives. The costs of control are extremely high, and the probable result of its increase is the slow depreciation of a society's trust reserve. Lenin once said "Trust is good, but control is better," but because the presence of social trust lowers transaction costs in everyday life, perhaps we should instead say "Control is good, but trust is cheaper".

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