Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Economic Inequality: Scandinavia vs. the United States

Here is and interesting snippet from "What can the United States learn from the Nordic Model", relating to my question about economic inequality. Since the United States is criticized for high levels of economic inequality, I was curious how our poverty stacks up against that of other nations? Here is an interesting insight:

"...defenders of the Nordic Model argue that the United States suffers from greater levels of income inequality... the poorest 10 percent of Americans have about the same level of income as the poorest 10% of Finns, Swedes, and Danes. Only in the oil-rich Norway is there a noticeable gap (data for Iceland not available). What differentiates America from the Nordic nations is the income of everyone else. The rich, the middle class, and the working class in the United States enjoy higher levels of income than their Nordic counterparts. "

This also raises a few questions relating to relative costs of living, taxes and social programs...
  • Is this adjusted for the lower costs of living in the US, giving people of equal incomes a higher standard of living in the United States?
  • Are the income levels adjusted to reflect tax burdens? Are these after/before tax incomes?.. as the article states, "Scandinavians are the poorest people in Western Europe once incomes are adjusted for taxes and the cost of living."
  • What about the welfare provisions of the Nordic nations? Would they give the poor of Scandinavia a higher standard of living than those in the US, or do they recieve relatively equal benefits as the poor here? (ex// medicaid, medicare, food stamps, bridge cards, wic, welfare checks, etc.)

...anyways, I thought that was interesting and helped to answer some of the questions I had, so I thought I would share. ~Dani

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