Skip to comments.Swedes spurn bling but value education (Americans spurn education but value bling?)
Posted on 12/15/2007 2:19:15 AM PST by WesternCulture
Being broke need not mean social death in Sweden - as long as you are well-educated. But for Americans and Russians having a good all-round education is no substitute for having cash, according to a new survey on status symbols in the three countries.
The international survey by analysts United Minds asked 1,000 people in each country what values confer status.
'Bling' items such as expensive jewellery and designer clothes come well down the list for Swedes, while featuring more highly for Americans and, particularly, Russians.
"Sweden is the only country where you can be penniless but well-read and still have the highest status in the neighbourhood. General financial security means that things like a good education and being a good parent are seen more as something to aim for," said Marie Söderqvist Tralau, analyst at United Minds.
Entrepreneurship seemingly counts for little among Swedes. They were alone in not rating owning a company as being a big status symbol. Americans and Russians both put this in third place, while among Swedes it fell out of the top ten.
Having an all-round education was the most important value for Swedes, coming above other considerations such as wealth.
Swedes - particularly Swedish men - considered language skills to be a big status symbol, putting the ability to speak a number of languages in fourth place. Russians put languages fifth, but Americans did not think a command of foreign languages conferred high status.
Swedes and Americans placed family and marriage high up the list of 100 values. Russians were more materialistic, with work, money and titles valued more highly than softer values such as parenthood and marriage. A long and stable marriage was only 21st most important for Russians, while it was seventh for Swedes and eighth for Americans.
Not all marriages conferred equal status, however. People in all three countries viewed a woman with a much younger husband as having very low status. A much younger wife was less unpopular, but this was not viewed as a status enhancer in any country.
People in all three countries put having a degree high on the list, although Russians particularly rated a degree from a university with high international status, such as Harvard or Oxford. Being good at one's job was the top rated quality for Russians and Americans, and the second most important thing for Swedes.
"A good education is very important in all countries, and especially so in Sweden. It is a sophisticated way of showing you are intelligent, unlike for instance, luxury goods or academic titles," said Tralau.
When it comes to status-enhancing objects, Swedes put eco-cars such as hybrids at the top of the list. For Americans and Russians there was much less status in using your wheels to show your green credentials.
The biggest social faux-pas in Sweden was to have a childminder or cleaner and pay them under the table. In Russia and the US, having IKEA furniture was near the bottom of the list at 98, while Swedes put this at 73.
Having plastic surgery and therapy ranked low in all three countries, with Americans ranking therapy right at the bottom of the list.
The email survey was sent to 1,000 people in each country, with respondents selected to be representative in terms of age, sex and location.
To begin with, there are no really poor people in Sweden.
For instance, I’m poor by Swedish standards and I own a car that most Americans, Japanese, Britons and continental Europeans can’t afford, drink a lot of exclusive wines and can afford to rent a château in France or a grand villa in Italy when I go on holiday there.
Swedish wages are on a really nice level and taxes are not as high as most people seem to think. Some people over here are overtaxed, but no one is underpaid.
Another thing is that ‘poor’ Swedes and ‘rich’ Swedes often live in the same neighborhoods to a further extent than often is the case abroad (although there are ‘rich’ neighborhoods, like Djursholm in Stockholm where mostly dollar millionaires live). Because of this, relative prosperity as well as relative poverty is not as visible as it is in many other countries. To a certain extent, this might explain why Swedes don’t worry too much about appearing to be rich or not to other Swedes.
I feel like illegally emigrating there just to see how that feels.
Don’t take puff pieces too seriously - they are designed to make you feel bad...
“I feel like illegally emigrating there just to see how that feels”
- Russia or Sweden?
Seriously, life in Scandinavia is very good, but some foreigners who’ve been here for a while complain about the weather.
Personally, I’m used to it, but I admit it sometimes is rather gloomy.
During summer, I sometimes complain about the temperature being too high, but so far I’ve never felt like it’s too low.
If you ever plan to visit Sweden, feel free to contact me.
I’m not saying it’s the most beautiful part of Europe, but I’d say Sweden has a lot of beautiful impressions to offer:
But if one wants to live in a diverse nation, where the brightest and best are creating new things, failing and succeeding, living among a more culturally diverse population than in any nation ever on the planet, and wants a much wider choice of lifestyles, where the world's new ideas are formulated...
Let's just say not everyone desires to live the rather bland existence this article tries to describe.
“Dont take puff pieces too seriously - they are designed to make you feel bad...”
- Or to adjust bilateral judgements of nations a little, in order to promote rational analysis of things of common interest to men (like issues of economy) instead of this constant mud throwing found everywhere on the internet.
Sweden is a rich country just like the US, Canada, Switzerland and Norway. The more parts of the world that become like us, the merrier.
I’m convinced a lot of Americans feel they enjoy a high standard of living.
Well...how wonderful to just...EXIST..and mean nothing else..sounds kinda sad really..
Yeah, but the Swedes allow hordes of head-choppers into their formerly peaceful country. They murder and rape and demand special privileges. Until Sweden kicks them out, Sweden is off my list of places to visit.
Shouldn’t there be some kind or “rule” related to Swedish posts??? :)
“and wants a much wider choice of lifestyles, where the world’s new ideas are formulated...”
- I agree.
There are a lot of positive things to say about the Scandinavian countries (and I often hear Americans doing so), but I agree Americans have more freedom of choice.
Furthermore, the general standard of living (from a sheer material point of view) in Scandinavia isn’t as high as the(nominal) GDP figures suggests. For instance, Norwegian GDP/capita and salaries might be second only to those of Luxembourg, but a nice car like the Volvo XC90 (it’s made here in Gothenburg where I live, sorry for chosing such an example) actually costs THREE AN A HALF times as much in Norway compared to the US (at least when you look at the pre-tax price in the US).
In Sweden, a lot of people (but far from all) receive a nice car from their employer as part of their salary, but in most cases the employee has to accept a car of a certain make, mostly a SAAB or a Volvo. But what if you’d prefer to drive an Audi?
“Shouldnt there be some kind or rule related to Swedish posts??? :)”
- Thinking of the sbt rule?
That one would probably work.
“That one would probably work.”
- Glad to hear that.
Many Swedish women are blond and good looking, but there once was actually a rather pretty Swedish brunette once (the song in the clip was worthless even in the 1980’s, but Lena’s voice and her looks are of a very different quality IMO):
The anti-sumptuaries among the Scandinavians are notoroious worldwide and through history from the Late Middle Ages.
- I’d say most people benefit from experiencing poverty for some (preferably early) period of their life and then get more or less well off. But if you are intelligent and well educated and all the same get accustomed to being poorer than everyone else around you’re letting yourself down.
Today, I’m not rich, but I’m much better off than I was 15 years ago. When I attended university in the early 1990’s I really felt like dirt poor. I remember looking with envy at the nice BMW’s, Volvo’s and SAAB’s other people were driving around in. Today, I drive such a car myself and I have an intellect as well.
Many of my friends are richer than I, but compared to what I have seen of human existence abroad, my life is paradisaical. I feel thankful towards my country and I feel like my life is on the right track.
In one way, I feel like we Scandinavians deserve to enjoy the lifes we live (not saying we live better than everyone else) as we are disciplined and work hard just like Americans do. But in another way I have the impression many of us take prosperity for granted. We rely too much on our governments to take care of us. On the other hand, attitudes are changing over here.
Greetings to Alaska from Scandinavia.
“Nonsense. You guys opposed DeLaGardie because, as it turned out, he had a taste for wine ~ he was, after all, from France.
The anti-sumptuaries among the Scandinavians are notoroious worldwide and through history from the Late Middle Ages.”
- Whatever you say, Sweden is the ONLY country that succesfully has conquered Moscow!
“Yeah, but the Swedes allow hordes of head-choppers into their formerly peaceful country. They murder and rape and demand special privileges. Until Sweden kicks them out, Sweden is off my list of places to visit.”
- I don’t blame you for having that kind of impression of Sweden. The stupid actions of PC Swedish politicians is one of the few things that can make me feel truly ashamed of my country.
But, perhaps there is hope after all?
Bravo to you. Your defense of your country is civil and charming.
Swedes need to develope a sense of humor, though.
- We have made some attempts at humor, but we never seem to advance beyond sheer mockery of our neighbors (the Finns, Danes and Norwegians).
This is how we portray the inhabitants of the kingdom of Nokia/Finland:
However, that is pretty much of an exaggeration. The Finns are actually very cultivated people with lots of ‘disco feeling’: