Hail the Vikings! That’s probably what most people think of when they think of the Nordic countries: that, and cultural elements like fermented shark, exciting music, and IKEA. However, the Nordic countries encompass so much more than that. The four main Nordics: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, are models of rich culture and economic prosperity.
This is evident from the fact that they have escaped American economic inequality and European upheaval of the same kind. Many experts term the Nordic model as the ideal representation of modernization and progress.
So, what is it that makes these countries ideal? It's because of something called Nordic values, and we're going to talk more about that in a minute.
Nations and Homogenous Values
Before we address Nordic values' nature and what they're all about, it's worthwhile to talk about whether it's possible to have homogenous values in a single nation, or this case, multiple countries.
You must have heard about various nations around the world and the values they hold dear. For example, many South Asian countries have strong family and collective values. They prize collectivism over individualism, among other things. Homogenous values like these are sculpted over time and are the result of cultural practices and traditions.
On the other hand, we must be careful not to confuse values with stereotypes. The latter represents misconceptions that usually aren't based in reality but have been passed around so much that they seem to be true. Many stereotypes are typically generalized and racist sentiments that have no place in a discussion about values.
An excellent way to differentiate between these two is to look at the kind of tone they are presented in. Stereotypes are usually more negative, while values are seen as positive. If someone tells you that everyone in Nordic countries is tall and wears Viking helmets, that's a stereotype. Alternatively, if you hear that people from Nordic countries believe in fairness and equality, you'll know that's a discussion about values.
The Nordic Values
Now that you know the difference between values and stereotypes, let's get into what Nordic values are. Nordic countries represent a near-to-ideal version of a progressive, modern society where everyone is respected and cherished.
Norders believe in creativity, fair human rights, equality, sustainability, prosperity, and compassion. They exercise these values in their daily lives and, more importantly, in government as well. Norders believe in tackling critical social issues in ways that resolve them and build on them further. In this way, they don't allow progress to be halted or stopped.
Above everything, they believe in community and innovation. The Nordic Model aims to bring together intelligent people worldwide to be creating communities that contribute to the overall economy. There's a firm belief in the positive impact of teamwork and shared values. Moreover, Norders encourage synergy and don’t believe that anyone should be left behind. There’s a well-developed safety net that protects everyone who is part of civic society so they can reap the benefits they are due.
The Nordic Model
We brought up the Nordic Model. Let’s discuss it further here. This framework was established to allow Norders to come together and combine their shared values. It will enable them to give back to their community and stay on the path of fairness and modernization.
This model espouses some critical values. These are:
This framework allows all stakeholders in the society to work together, so no one is excluded. Let's look at how the model benefits various areas of the community:
Nordic countries offer free access to education, which satisfies one of the most powerful civic life fundamentals. Having free education means churning out a skilled population interested in growing their society as a whole. An education population also means modernization and a shallow wage gap as compared to other countries. This specific factor has also been a stabilizing force for the Nordic economy as the workforce chooses to stay in their respective countries and reap the opportunities offered to them by the government, i.e., low brain drain.
The Nordic Model highly promotes entrepreneurship and creativity. People who want to start their businesses are assured that they won't lose all that they have collected in their lives if they choose to branch out and do their own thing. The government provides programs that let citizens build new businesses from the ground up, including funding, expert help, and many more. These resources mean that people aren't afraid to innovate consistently and better society. A lot of big brands, e.g., IKEA are a stellar example of this. It started as a small furniture brand but is now exported all around the world. This is how innovation leads to progress and economic prosperity.
Norders are on the front line when tackling major environmental issues such as the overuse of fossil fuels and renewable energy. The countries have a lot of natural resources like hydropower and oil. However, they have programs that encourage people to work on finding renewable energy sources. They aim to make their nations eco-friendly and sustainable to keep a good balance between those and natural resources. This sort of far-thinking also means more jobs for citizens in those sectors.
Many countries face issues where their citizens cannot find jobs or can't get welfare. This is very different in Nordic countries. The Nordic Model includes a public sector that gives citizens access to both interest and social safety. Additionally, the larger labor market is regulated, meaning both unions and employers work in unison. The government pumps a lot of money into this project, resulting in attractive factors like low wage gaps, high employment rates, gender equality, and funding for research.
When speaking of labor, it's imperative to also include general social welfare, which Nordic countries have many. The public sector provides welfare services to all of its citizens. Some of these are benefits for children, maternity and paternity leave, free healthcare, and more. And if you're an elderly or sick person, you don't need to worry. The model provides for less fortunate members of society as well. This is because the model follows the fundamental values of compassion and tolerance. This means that Norders enjoy a high level of socio-economic equality and better health overall.
Population and Migration:
The Nordic countries attract a lot of migrants, with good reason. Many asylum seekers come to this region to set up new lives. The government facilitates them by making it easy for them to find employment, housing, and settle down. Not only that but there is a lot of inter-migration among the nations themselves. The current issue that is being tackled is an aging population. This is because most citizens enjoy long lifespans and good health. However, this also means the need to invite and attract younger people to make up the workforce. The Nordic Model caters to this by making it easy for people to move to the region, both internationally and within. This isn't a significant issue for this region as they are better positioned to do so than other European nations. What's more, the gap between the elderly members of society and its newborns isn't too steep as the Nordic countries also enjoy high birth rates.
A key fact to remember about the Nordic nations is that they have a long history of democracy and equality. While other countries make louder claims to democracy, Norders have been practicing and living it for years. The Nordic Model ensures high election turnouts and deficient levels of corruption at the state level. Speaking of which, it should be known that Norders do not tolerate or entertain any fraud. They believe in justice and equality, which is why they boast such high levels of gender equality. Women were allowed to vote as early as the 1800s in Sweden. Compare this to other European nations like Switzerland, where women didn't get the right to vote until 1971! Additionally, Nordic parliaments have the highest proportion of women globally, making it a fair and equally representative body. Norders experience an intense but fair political climate, which has led them to become the cornerstone for corruption-free and transparent democracy worldwide.
What’s Wrong with the Model?
You’ve read glowing reviews of the Nordic Model so far. However, as with anything, it also has its downsides. While the Nordic Model can be seen as one of the most perfected economic, social and political models worldwide, it’s not perfect.
One of the main flaws in the system is the high levels of taxation. Many young workers move abroad to escape taxes, while others who stay live off the state's welfare. While there are many jobs available, many people reap free benefits by doing absolutely nothing. However, the government is actively trying to combat this by providing increasingly attractive opportunities for people to go into business globally.
Why Should you Care?
So, what can you learn from the Nordic Model, and why does it matter? The model is an example of how politics, the economy, and social welfare can be done right. It's not perfect by any means, but so far, it is the only one we have to aspire to. Not only does the model encourage Norders to come together under a shared umbrella of values, but it also creates opportunities that they can financially and socially benefit from.
One of the main areas to aspire to is gender equality. While the rest of the world fights over wage gaps and maternity leave, Norders have it all figured out. The family system is kept sacred because both parents can take the exit to take care of their children when they need to. What's more, child benefits mean citizens don't have to worry when they're planning to expand their families.
On an economic note, the model is a teachable one. Norders have proven that it is possible to create social security and welfare while keeping government money. Welfare states promote progress, innovation, and modernization because their citizens are secure in their status and financial prospects. They know that the government will protect them if they want to take risks and start their ventures. This encourages a lot of economic prosperity and allows Norders to move money around the world.
Overall, you should look to the Nordic Model for an example of the perfect society. Norders willingly pay higher taxes than people in other countries because this guarantees them access to services like free healthcare and stellar education. Citizens aren’t afraid to reach out to their local government because there are deficient levels of corruption, and they can be assured of equal and fair representation. Democracy just works in Nordic countries, and now you know why. There is also no friction between unions and employers or the latter and their governments. Each system works perfectly in sync with the other, and minor kinks have been ironed out to create a smooth machine that just flows.
It would benefit other countries to learn from the Nordic example to create fair, tolerant, and compassionate societies that encourage local business and innovation. Additionally, each citizen feels heard because no one is excluded from education or health care. This means loyalty to the state, positive emotions for the government, and willingness to grow and expand the society. What's not to love!