December 9th, 2012
01:02 AM ET

Exploring the Scandinavian model

“Because of their more limited inequality and more comprehensive social welfare systems, many perceive average welfare to be higher in Scandinavian societies than in the United States. Why, then, does the United States not adopt Scandinavian-style institutions?” asked three researchers in a recent MIT paper that can be downloaded here. “More generally, in an interdependent world, would we expect all countries to adopt the same institutions?”

In this week’s What in the World on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET, Fareed Zakaria takes a look at the surprisingly free market countries of Scandinavia, and what the United States can – and can’t – adopt from them.

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Topics: Education • GPS Show • Health

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. David D. Perry

    I LOVE this program. I started watching about 6 months ago and Fareed Zakaria is upfront, basic, intelligent, educated and just presents the facts. I tell everyone I know to watch ITS THE BEST PROGRAM ON TV. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK.

    December 9, 2012 at 10:35 am | Reply
  2. 4closed30kids

    Baker states our issues are we spend to much, ok lets start with cutting our cost. I think we could start by cutting saleries and spending of all top goverment

    December 9, 2012 at 10:39 am | Reply
  3. Chris Knef

    Thankyou for your courteous interview style e.g. Allowing your guests (such as James Baker) time to provide a thoughtful answer. Other hosts keep interrupting. They are either insecure, rude, or have an ego need to impress us with their knowledge.

    December 9, 2012 at 10:40 am | Reply
  4. 4closed30kids

    I believe we need to cut spending and raise taxes, but do this in a responsable way. Responsable to our elderly, middle class, poor, and social responsablities

    December 9, 2012 at 10:49 am | Reply
  5. 4closed30kids

    I also love this program, I am an under educated low middle class foster mother who is expecting more from those of you who have had the money, ability to go on to a higher education and life style to get it. It is very tough out here just to feed and house our families. It is time for those that have to stop worrying about money and doing the right thing for our country and our people.

    December 9, 2012 at 10:57 am | Reply
  6. Jo Jo

    I was watching your Sunday early morning program where you were interviewing a doctor who indicated that we are on the "Cusp of Curing Cancer"..It was extremely interesting but confusing..Why is the Federal government cutting budget for research when we are in debt helping other third world countries? The doctor said they needed more donations which is wonderful but there are thousands of fund raisers, marathons and personal donations for decades of years..I understand much of the money is going into pockets of the "researchers" and "research" WHY? I want to donate but fearful that it's falling into someones pocket that needs to be used for FINDING A CURE..Why is it taking so long to have reached this point if the money is being used for the right reasons?

    Will the Obama Care hinder any hope of a cure?

    December 9, 2012 at 11:15 am | Reply
  7. JimC

    Studies always compare the entire U.S. with the small Scandanavian countries. One time I would like to see a study compare the Scandinavian countries against each state of the U.S. Several of the U.S. states have larger budgets and populations than the Scandinavian countries. Also, the central governments of the Scandinavian countries control the areas compared, where in the U.S., these areas are controlled by the states. The studies assume that the federal government has complete control over these areas which is not true. A more realistic study may show there are places in the U.S. that are better than the Scandinavian countries.

    December 9, 2012 at 11:19 am | Reply
  8. Barry Grogan

    M D Anderson's web site states federal grants and contracts from 2007-2011 increased 24%
    American recovery and reinvestment act 2009 gave 133 grants
    In current budget proposed 1 billion increase in NIH funding.
    While not a fan of the President, it doesn't like he's cutting as much as your guest indicated

    December 9, 2012 at 11:38 am | Reply
  9. JAL

    Significantly curb steroid abuse, and you will allow society and its members to heal itself. At least have some place in the world where there is zero tolerance for ped's. Have you seen the latest UFC commercial? Gee-whiz, do we live in hell?

    December 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  10. G DeWolf Shaw CFA

    What about talking about how and why Canada, joined at the hip
    to the U. S. geographically economically – the US's , No. 1 trading partner etc. Canada's longer life expectancy 2.2 yrs, > than the US at 2/3 the per capital cost; in 2011 Canada's GDP/capita > the US; Canada has the best balance sheet in the G-20 by far and the , best banking system that sailed through 2008 –now the Bank of Canada Governor has been called over to run the Bank of England. Fareed you don't have to go to Scandanavia to ask the questions you asked today. The question is – why has America rejected the Canada model and will it try to catch up?
    Regards,
    G DeWolf Shaw CFA

    December 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
    • toronto girl

      Because America does NOT learn from others!! That is not the Amurrican way!! (beats chest) According to the nay-sayers we are 'socialists"!! Doesn't matter that that we in Canada DO NOT IDENTIFY OURSELVES THAT WAY.

      So you're going to continue to muddle along as you are because there is simply not the political will to change things that drastically. We lived through all those changes decades ago, thank gawd.

      December 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  11. Richard Levy

    Mr. Zakaria mentioned the the publication on which his research was based is posted on CNN. Does anyone know where?

    December 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Reply
    • Janerik L

      Mr Zakaria said that the reference would be on the GPS web. Well it is not.

      December 12, 2012 at 9:41 am | Reply
  12. RickH

    Re the Scandinavia and innovation article. The referenced article does not explain why cutthroat capitalism generates more innovation. When most innovation research takes place in academic environments (you can look it up), why does it follow that more socially benevolent societies are less innovative?

    December 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  13. j. von hettlingen

    I know the Swedish model very well and I'm proud of it. The communists hate it and the capitalists are perplexed, as they don't know how to handle it.

    December 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  14. Steve Caruana

    Dear Mr Zakaria, I have just watched you latest programme on CNN one feature of which was the cancer research centre in Houston, Texas. The perennial issue if funding was raised. Given the benefit t all mankind and not just the USA, might I suggest a world wide charity/fund be created to finance this fascinating research which can secure the cure for caber. With a 50% chance fir males and a 33% chance for women to get cancer, I would be more than happy to contribute annually to this fund knowing that one day it might save my life and I am sure millions of ordinary world citizens would do so too.
    Steve Carana
    Malta
    Europe

    December 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  15. Being There

    When you insist on the Milton Friedman model of neoliberalism then you have to make up meme that neoliberalism = freedon and democracy when it's a killer and an abject failure for the many.
    You have to keep saying we need a million Steve Jobs and we will all be innovators and job creators.
    Eventually people will see it as the sham it is, but in the meantime Jim Demint will work for the Heritage foundation telling us all that the social safety net is anti freedom!

    They want everything privatized incl. the military. You can't have any government or academic research. It has to be a profit center.

    December 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  16. George Spectre

    I watch other thoughtful, intelligent news shows, but Fareed Zakaria, YOU ARE THE BEST. And you set an example for all the others not only in going for the core issues and presenting them in a balanced way, but in the manner you treat your guests. You are CNN's "anti-Chris Mathews". I try never to miss your shows.

    George Spectre
    Bethesda, MD

    December 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  17. Lyn Hargreave

    Fareed, why did you not connect the beginning and end of your program together today? In the beginning you said the the president should stop the war on terror. That few in the USA are killed by terrorists. At the end you talked with a doctor from M.D. Anderson about the huge number of cancer deaths that we are on the brink of being able to prevent with appropriate funding. Tie them together: Stopping he war on terror (which kills few US citizens) and applying that money toward cancer research we would save many more US lives, than we are saving with all our drone attacks.

    December 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  18. Erich Stratmann

    Where can I find the transcribed comments re America and Scandinavia

    December 9, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  19. I wish it was 1993

    Damn, after reading that headline I thought this article would be about something else...

    December 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Reply
  20. Robert Shuter

    Enjoyed the piece on Scandinavia and equality. My research confirms the essential message of the piece. My take on Scandinavia and the U.S. is captured in a recent Op-Ed of mine published in September in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – the link is: http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/the-us-could-learn-from-scandinavia-4e6qv31-169856786.html

    I'm working on a new essay that compares net profit and executives salaries of Scandinavian corporations with US corporations. Findings are quite interesting!

    December 9, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Reply
  21. A Scandinavian

    Dear Fareed,

    I enjoy watching your program and it was interesting to see your piece on the Scandinavian contries. However, since I live in Scandinavia there was one fact that didn't ring quite true to me: "US way ahead in innovation". I reacted to this since I know that Sweden is in the top five contries in the world when you look at how much is spent on RnD. In all fairness, you did point out that just measuring innovation by the number of patents per million might not be the most accurate way. To back up my point that, yes Scandinavia.. or at least Sweden is at the top when it comes to innovation too, I supply a link to an article about an international study.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-03/switzerland-sweden-are-world-s-most-innovative-countries.html

    December 10, 2012 at 8:07 am | Reply
  22. USN Ret.

    Scandinavian countries really only have one ethnic group to deal with. Other small ethnic groups are present but really have no impact on who controls how the system is administrated and it’s the same with Canada.
    The U.S. must deal with multiple groups with large population spread out over 50 states. What would work in Sweden may work in the upper mid-west where there is a large group of Scandinavian descendants but not in southern California with a large Hispanic population. I could go on but the reality is as one poster says unless all the states gave up self government to the federal government as Canada did then the Scandinavian countries blueprint will not work.
    One of my best friends is from Finland and he has said due to our diversity a central control as practiced in Scandinavian will not work. There would be too many fingers in the pot. Or better yet “Too many chief and not enough Indians.”

    December 10, 2012 at 11:24 am | Reply
    • toronto girl

      We have a fairly disparate ethnic variety in Canada; we're not one ethnic group by any means. We are a bilingual country with a province, Quebec, that almost invariably will go against anything the other provinces want to do just to be difficult. We have huge populations of immigrants from China and India and the Philippines. Canada is extremely varied in its makeup.

      December 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • Popuppete

      I will echo toronto girls thoughts. Canada is very multicultural. We identify ourselves as a multicultural country with only around 30% of people identifying themselves as just Canadian. 20% of the country speaks French. We have a small/medium population spread across a large area. Compared to centralized European countries the role of the Federal government and Provinces is quite similar to the State/Federal setup of the USA.
      I think the difference is the Sweeds wanted their model to work so they made it work.
      Americans chose their method based on their desiers, and it might not have as high a quality of life as the Scandanivian countries but it is still working very well to provide a decent quality of life for most Americans.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:22 am | Reply
  23. Timmy Suckle

    I kissed my way up to VP at a health insurance company. Now I take over $600,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
    But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easy to be fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
    Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $110,100 level. Now I only pay 1.1% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

    December 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply
  24. Just for Fun

    Timmy Suckle
    If you feel so bad about your gluttony why don't you quit. Or better yet fine some poor family and pay for their insurance and not use them as a deduction. Then there would be one less family on well fare thanks to you kindness. Or in the fullness of your heart do two families.

    But we all know this is a made up story .
    Remember DEC 21 is coming: BYE, BYE!

    December 11, 2012 at 11:05 am | Reply
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