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’:
“..I drive a car I can actually afford outright..”
- Very rare these days.
“As a result, I have no debt and a lot more disposable income, although the only thing I really indulge in is wine and dining out.”
- Sounds like a very pleasant existence to me. I’d say you have an approach to life a lot of people would benefit from, but few implement. You seem to live like the banks, realtors and car manufacturers DO NOT wish us to live.
“IKEA stuff is good for young adults, but once I was in my late twenties, I felt my IKEA decor wasn’t sending out the message that a mature adult lived in my place.”
- Yes, I agree IKEA furniture mostly is for young people (and to some extend useful as a complement to your interior in general). On the other hand, they also sell all sorts of things at moderate prices that has got nothing to do with furniture. For instance, I bought a very good pesto rosso and a bunch of cheap shoe horns that I handed out to certain friends and relatives (because I always get annoyed when I’m about to leave their homes and can’t find one of these tools anywhere!) there recently.
Yeah, I still get a lot of household items from IKEA. I recently bought a wok, a garlic press, a couple of knives, and some towels for next to nothing. The prices for kitchen items are amazingly cheap.
“Don’t believe it when someone tells you that diversity is your strength.
There are whole neighborhoods here (US) where the diverse will kill you in a heart beat.”
- I’m not surprised to hear someone residing in the US say so. Undeniably, the benefits of diversity are overrated. Even in one of the richest and most well ordered countries on Earth, namely Switzerland, there is a lot of strife between French, German and Italian speaking groups.
Which are the most peaceful countries in all of the industrialized world?
A lot of people would agree Finland, Iceland and Japan to rank very high in this respect. Not exactly what I’d call examples of multicultural societies.
“What will you do when my people come for their land?”
- Rudolf and his fellow reindeers are always welcome around X-mas!
“The prices for kitchen items are amazingly cheap”
- Yes, that’s my impression too. Cheap kitchen items are everywhere, but IKEA seems to be more quality concerned than many smaller retailers. Just like Wal-Mart, they’re in a position to demand high quality at an exceptionally low price from suppliers because of their size.
Said Marie Söderqvist Tralau, without a hint of bias.
This magaqzine is put out by a Sa'ami or two in Alaska and the PAC NW. Some of the folks from Brown County Indiana moved up there back in the 1920s, and later on 1930s with a land settlement scheme sponsored by the New Deal.
Most of them belonged to Church of the First Born, so they set up a COTFB in North Pole, and a few other places around Alaska.
The reindeer deal came to fruition under FDR and a bunch of Sa'ami were sent over to teach Indians and Aleuts how to herd them.
Once the deal was over, and the Indians were trained, the government directed that non-Indians could no longer run reindeer on Indian and Eskimo and Aleut lands, so the Sa'ami had to go somewhere else. Some went to Seattle. Others stayed there.
Interestingly enough most of the Alaskan Sa'ami ended up living with my relatives from Brown County. Best I can tell there was a MINIMUM 140 year separation of the last guy to go from the Sapmai to Brown County and this meeting of Brown County Sa'ami descendants and new Sa'ami immigrants in mid-20th century Alaska.
Certainly no linguistic carryovers (except for Amaroogia and Brogalis)
No one had ever claimed any particular country in Europe as a place from which anyone had emigrated either.
Still, when given the opportunity, both Sa'ami and these people of the Sa'ami diaspora settled in the same places in Alaska and ended up doing the same stuff.
I think detailing this out would be worth a degree or two in anthropology.
Also might have something to do with folks working outdoors in winter not wearing gloves, or showing up at the doctor's office with the same unusual heartbeat, and I can think of some other stuff too.
BTW, that site you referenced is a pretty good place to start Sa'ami research. It intersects just about every other site on the net that has links to the rest of the stuff.
American schoolkids are 23 out of 30 in math/science among industrialized countries.
That was a very devastating event for Sweden and Swedes in general because Finland was, at that time, just about the wealthiest spot on Earth.
I've tracked a chunk of an early Midwestern settlement (Seymour, Indiana) back to that event. Looks like a handful of Swedish noblemen with their investments in Finland sold everything and moved here.
This group predates modern Swedish emigration to America by about 30 years, and is, itself, 133 years AFTER the earliest Swedish emigration period (post 30 years war).
This new Swedish colony in the Ohio Valley attracted older New Sweden colony descendants (mostly Sa'ami and Finn) to the area ~ when I was a kid they still had 7 different synods of Lutheran thought and organization represented among the Lutheran churches in that area. They've relented a bit these days and I believe there are only 3 kinds of Lutheran groups left.
It's noteworthy that virtually none of the descendants of these people are aware of any Scandinavian ancestry.
It later on took all of Europe and most of America to accomplish essentially the same trick.
Less than 5,000 of Finland's Sa'ami formed the core of the force that knocked out the Russians in the Continuation War (which was a tie, although the Russians did demand and get about half the land area of the country).
The Mongols would have beaten Moscow too but it didn't exist when the Golden Horde was set up.
He liked wine and fine clothes but your plain clothes type Swedes (who preferred untanned furs and fresh beer) criticized him for his appetites.
Take at Ulriksdahl kitchen cabinets. Hardly made for twenty something incomes or tastes. Quite sedate.
They also sell some quite serviceable feather beds and down quilts ~
My brother-in-law is from Denmark so I can agree with most of the points in your post. The only thing I have to say is that these types of articles ignore the fact that in Europe if you drive in one direction for a couple hours, you’ll encounter multiple dialects or languages. In the North American continent you can go to every country and know that English is the only language you have to speak to get along. Americans don’t give a fart about learning multiple languages because we don’t have to.
I do wish that the USA would change the education system so that instead of promoting a bachelors degree over everything, that vocational training was better emphasized. My bro-in-law went to what would be called a community college or junior college here in the states. He recieved a very good education in international business without having to deal with the liberal arts (indocrination) garbage a university freshman here in the states would have to endure. In my case I was interested in medical imaging but just to get into the program I essentially would have to get an associates degree in liberal arts before being accepted into the program. What does medievel world literature have to do with medical imaging?
It would be quite foolish to move from the US to Sweden with the expectation that it would increase your standard of living. The utopian description that there are no poor people here, that everyone has a high standard of living, that taxes are not a problem, etc. is a myth; and not a very popular one. I have not seen such a claim anywhere except here at freerepublic, and here only from one person.
I take things I’m told on the net with a grain of salt.
LOL! For the past 5 years I have been best friends w/a Norwegian. We also had a professor who was Danish. The big joke between them was to make fun of Swedes. As an American, new to the Nordic folks, I didn't see much of a difference, but obviously you guys do. The jokes they told about the Swedes were outrageous, but maybe more polite than the ones they told about the Finns!
Lived in Sweden two years... been home for one now... beautiful country... full of slackers... when I have my notes complete, I’ll ping you with the story. Totally enjoyed the experience and travel but nothing compares to the U.S.
Also, glad my great grandparents hopped the boat from there to the U.S. in the mid/late 1800s.
You live in Sweden?
Interesting. I don’t complain about Sweden myself. It does have its good points. It just bothers me when someone is turning it into a myth. In a conversation with a high level government official once, she made the point that hyping Sweden for leftist propaganda so often leads to counter arguments against Sweden; which is not nice for Sweden. So, I don’t even see creating a Swedish myth as doing Sweden any favors.
“It just bothers me when someone is turning it into a myth.”
- Obviously, Sweden rightfully makes the impression of a myth.
Mainly because so many other countries don’t know work ethics and fail to discern the idea of product quality.
The standard of living in Sweden is unparallelled.
The simple evidence of this is that a car like the Volvo V70 is an average car in its coutry of origin (best selling car since years ago).
Prosperity exists in other countries, but it’s not as widespread as it is in Sweden.
It would be easy to portray Sweden as some kind of paradise compared to places like the US and Great Britain.
But let’s compare Sweden to the other Scandinavian countries.
Let’s bring up the Volvo V70 again. In which Scandinavian country does the average family own a car like the Volvo V70?
In which Scandinavian country does the average family own a summer house and a motorboat?
In which Scandinavian country are houses built in a way which allow them to withstand an earthquake (although earthquakes never occur in Sweden)?
In which Scandinavian country are houses the largest and the best built?