Skip to comments.Why Do Swedes in America Earn Far More than Swedes in Sweden?
Posted on 09/14/2012 9:14:16 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
In my travels through Europe, I often wind up debating whether policy is better in the United States or Europe. I generally try to explain that this is the wrong comparison, both because Europe is not a monolithic bloc and also because most individual nations have both good policies and bad policies.
But sometimes you have to use blunt comparisons, which is why this data on living standards is powerful evidence that Europe is paying a high price for excessive government.
When I cite such data, proponents of statism often respond by arguing that Im being unfair by lumping together more efficient welfare states in Northern Europe with poorly run welfare states in Southern Europe.
Thats a very good point, and Ive acknowledged that nations such as Sweden and Denmark are examples of how to do the wrong thing in the best possible fashion. They have large welfare states, but they compensate with very pro-market policies in other areas.
Indeed, Sweden is a good example of a nation that has implemented some good reforms in recent years, such as school choice and partial Social Security privatization.
But I argue that these good reforms dont fully offset the damage caused by excessive government spending. And now I have a new and very pointy arrow in my argumentative quiver. A study from the London-based Institute for Economic Affairs has found that Swedes in America earn significantly more money than Swedes in Sweden.
Here are a couple of excerpts from the IEA study.
The 4.4 million or so Americans with Swedish origins are considerably richer than average Americans, as are other immigrant groups from Scandinavia. If Americans with Swedish ancestry were to form their own country, their per capita GDP would be $56,900, more than $10,000 above the income of the average American. This is also far above Swedish GDP per capita, at $36,600. Swedes living in the USA are thus approximately 53 per cent more wealthy than Swedes (excluding immigrants) in their native country (OECD, 2009; US Census database). It should be noted that those Swedes who migrated to the USA, predominately in the nineteenth century, were anything but the elite. Rather, it was often those escaping poverty and famine. A Scandinavian economist once said to Milton Friedman, In Scandinavia, we have no poverty. Milton Friedman replied, Thats interesting, because in America, among Scandinavians, we have no poverty, either. Indeed, the poverty rate for Americans with Swedish ancestry is only 6.7 per cent: half the US average (US Census).
This is remarkable information, and it reminds me that Thomas Sowell had similar stats for other groups in his great book, Ethnic America.
Im not familiar with the methodological issues involved in this type of research, but is certainly seems like this is a good way of getting apples-to-apples comparisons of different economic systems.
Like many other people, Ive argued that the success of the overseas Chinese community (compared to their counterparts stuck in Communist China) is a damning indictment of statism.
Now we see that Swedes do reasonably well when living in a country with a big welfare state, but they do even better when living in a nation with a medium-sized welfare state.
So you can imagine how prosperous they would be if a bunch of Swedes named Ulla Rosarne lived in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore!
What needs to be understood, it is that the Founding Fathers, unlike the theorists who have been denying European potential in Europe; the theorists in American Academia, now destroying the American way;--all of whom are merely chasing airborne theories of how people "ought" to act & interact;--the founders of America based their beliefs on the actual experiences of settler peoples. They merely put into words, what they and their forebears had observed.
The time for apologetic Americanism never came; but a corrupted youth, who supported the demagogue apologist in 2008, were misled by academic crackpots, who should have been laughed out of the classroom.
Well, that's a little better than this American with Swedish ancestry makes. But then, I'm a pastor.
Everybody knows they have a Swede deal here.
IMO the usual number games one can play when trying to make some point. These days there are so many ‘studies’ by so many ‘institutes’ that it’s easy to pick something that fits one’s intended conclusions that all of that has become mostly meaningless. Correlation does not mean causation etc. etc.
(Sowell is adamant about the necessity of referring to primary sources).
Thank you for that link. Sowell expresses exactly what I meant.
We live in an age of overly abundant, easily accessible data. But what does any of that data really say? Therein lies the rub. And, alas, we encounter more abuse of data than credible use of data. Sadly, such abuse of data is not limited to one side of the political spectrum. Nor is it limited to the lower spheres of public discourse (bloggers...).
Hence my first reaction to any “studies prove” article is a healthy dose of scepticism.