The Nordic Countries 2

The Nordic Model – a Way out of Disability? Part II

In key word form, the model has the following characteristics, which to a greater or lesser degree are mutually dependent on each other:

  • Small income differences
  • Great trust in political institutions
  • High employment
  • High degree of organization on the employee and employer side and a well-developed agreement system
  • A disciplined system for dealing with conflicts of interest and wage negotiations
  • High tax level
  • A developed welfare state with benefits that include everyone
  • High productivity and great adaptability in business

The wage differences are generally small in the Nordic region compared with other countries, which is partly due to high collective agreement coverage (Many employees are covered by a collective agreement) and a large element of central settlements. A central settlement means that it is the organizations at national level that agree on how large the wage supplements should be in contrast to local settlements at the individual company. The parties largely agree that wage growth must be adapted to the country’s economy. But free education also contributes to equalization. Then it is not only those with the most money who have the opportunity to take higher education and thus climb the income ladder.

The employment rate is around 75 per cent in the Nordic countries (proportion of the population between the ages of 15 and 64 who are employed). This is mainly due to the fact that women are at work to about the same extent as men. Maternity leave and the development of kindergartens are important prerequisites for women to participate in working life on an equal footing with men.

High support for working life organizations – that many are organized – is a prerequisite for the way working life works in the Nordic countries. The proportion of trade unionists in the Nordic countries is between 50 and 80 per cent, which is higher than in most other European countries. Employers are also generally well organized. The conditions in the workplaces and the parties’ cooperation, both centrally and locally (at the individual workplace), also depend on the employer’s attitudes to organization and trade union activities.

The thinking is that the necessary development of the companies is closely linked to the conditions for the employees: A better working environment and a trusting workforce often results in more commitment, lower absenteeism and fewer injuries. In addition, a collaboration between the parties locally could better facilitate reorganization, skills development and restructuring – and ultimately higher productivity. Mutual trust and respect are also a prerequisite for finding good solutions in crisis situations.

4: Public involvement and welfare schemes

The authorities – the public sector (state, county and municipality) – also play a role in party cooperation. First and foremost through mediation institutions – both centrally and locally. This means that mediators intervene when notified of a labor dispute (strike or lockout) and try to reach a solution between the parties. During the period when mediation takes place, a labor struggle (peace obligation) is not permitted. In Norway, this institution is known as the Ombudsman .

Public social security schemes create a safety net, which in turn can contribute to higher mobility in the labor market (ie that people actually dare to change jobs) and willingness to adapt (new tasks, further education, etc.). In the Nordic countries, it has been relatively easy to lay off and lay off employees, but those laid off are taken care of through unemployment benefits and labor market measures. It provides security for employees and flexibility for employers. The scheme has inspired the EU’s ideas for a more active labor market policy, through the concept of flexicurity (composition of the words flexibility and security).

Free health care and education, good leave and social security schemes, as well as the development of kindergartens and the like, require high tax revenues. If many of the taxpayers feel that the welfare state’s schemes concern them – in that they apply to everyone – one contributes to a higher support for a high tax level. These schemes also create a basis for higher employment, which in turn leads to increased tax revenues. So-called universal (includes all) schemes differ from systems that are based on needs testing.

According to, the Nordic model has for several decades given the Nordic countries a gross national product per capita that is at the forefront internationally. He is part of a research group that has looked more closely at the Nordic model, and which, among other things, prepared a pamphlet for the summit of the World Economic Forum in 2011. This pamphlet also points out that the Nordic countries are seen as responsible and with little element. of corruption.

According to Professor Gudmund Hernes, the Nordic model is not just a question of institutions and support for legislation and routines. It is also about a political culture – that is, about common attitudes and norms, both about what we should seek to achieve and how we should act. A high degree of social equality is central to such societies – most people think it is a good thing. The Nordic model is further characterized by social cohesion and mutual recognition and respect between groups (even if one does not necessarily agree). This provides a stable balance of power .

The Nordic Countries 2

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