Il modello scandinavo

Chi oggi si oppone al modello liberista indica l’esempio del modello scandinavo: welfare gratuito, alte tasse, diseguaglianze contenute, politiche anti-discriminatorie e crescita apprezzabile.

Ma siamo sicuri che dietro la crescita ci siano davvero welfare, tasse e tutto il resto? Siamo di fronte ad un’anomalia tanto straordinaria da meritare studi approfonditi?

Secondo Nima Sanandaji (Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism) le cose non stanno in questi termini: cio’ che più invidiamo ai paesi scandinavi precede l’avvento del welfare state e delle altre politiche tipiche di questi lidi.

Facciamo un esempio: i danesi oggi hanno una speranza di vita superiore a quella americana ma non sembra affatto che il loro sistema sanitario “gratuito” c’entri qualcosa: prima il divario era ancora più marcato!:

… Danes today outlive their American counterparts, but not because Denmark has the highest tax-to-GDP ratio in the developed world. As late as 1960, taxes in Denmark were actually lower than in the United States (25 percent of GDP compared with 27 percent), yet at the time, Danes lived 2.4 years longer than Americans—well before the creation of the Danish welfare state. In Sweden and Norway, too, the gap in life span compared with the United States is smaller today than it was in the mid–twentieth century, when their public sectors were relatively less developed. Child mortality follows a similar trend: when Nordic countries had small welfare states, they were further ahead compared with the rest of the world than they are today…

Non si capisce niente dei paesi scandinavi se non si guarda alla loro storia. Una storia fatta di successi economici con i quali si è finanziato un welfare costoso che ha finito per ingolfare il sistema richiedendo pesanti riforme negli anni ‘90.

In genere si possono isolare quattro fasi. Prendiamo la Svezia: prima fase, avvento del mercato libero e del benessere:

… In the latter half of the nineteenth century, liberal politicians such as Johan August Gripenstedt,minister of finance from 1856 to 1866, introduced reforms designed to secure business freedom, free trade, and strong protections for property rights. From around 1870 to 1936, Sweden pursued pro-market economic policies and was rewarded with an average yearly growth rate of two percent—the highest of any western European nation during the period and twice as high as rates of leading economies such as that of the United Kingdom…

Seconda fase: cominciano ad essere introdotte le prime misura di welfare, anche le tasse si alzano: il benessere rallenta pur restando su livelli accettabili accettabile:

In 1936, the Swedish Social Democratic Party was able to form its first majority government. The Social Democrats went on to dominate Swedish political life until 1970, slowly raising taxes and expanding the welfare state while, for the most part, leaving the market-oriented policies of their predecessors in place. During these years, Sweden’s growth rate rose to 2.9 percent. Although higher in absolute terms than before—a product of technological growth and the postwar boom—this was around the western European average. (Austria, for instance, grew by a yearly average of 3.5 percent over the same period

Terza fase: il welfare esplode, le tasse s’impennano e il paese salta in aria fallendo come un’ Argentina qualsiasi:

Then, between 1970 and 1991, Sweden—unlike other Nordic countries—experimented with third way socialism. The pinnacle of these policies was the introduction of “employer funds,” a system through which ownership of private firms would slowly be transferred to funds run by the labor unions. Sweden’s average growth rate fell to 1.4 percent, the second lowest in western Europe, and many successful businesses and individuals left the country…

Quarta fase: riforme neo-liberiste (primi anni 90) e nuovo balzo in avanti della ricchezza disponibile:

The socialist experiment was followed by an era of renewed focus on market reforms, reduced generosity of welfare programs, and significant tax reductions. The reforms paid off: between 1991 and 2014, Sweden’s growth rate rose to 1.8 percent—placing the country only slightly behind the United Kingdom, which had the highest rate in western Europe during this period…

Un resoconto di buon senso che fa dei paesi scandinavi paesi “normali” sottoposti alle medesime leggi economiche che “tormentano” anche noi comuni mortali: il welfare è un lusso che si paga caro e frena la produzione di ricchezza.

Mi sorprende piuttosto quel che segue: anche la diseguaglianza sembra un portato di epoche precedenti: era infatti bassa anche in epoca di laissez faire:

… in a 2008 study of top incomes in Sweden, the economists Jesper Roine and Daniel Waldenstrom explain that “most of the decrease [in income equality in Sweden] takes place before the expansion of the welfare state and by 1950 Swedish top income shares were already lower than in other countries.” A 2013 study by Anthony Barnes Atkinson and Jakob Egholt Sogaard reached a similar conclusion for Denmark and Norway. As my brother, the economist Tino Sanandaji, explains in another paper from 2012: “American scholars who write about the success of the Scandinavian welfare states in the postwar period tend to be remarkably uninterested in Scandinavia’s history prior to that period…

L’autore formula un’ipotesi che a me convince: nel caso dei paesi scandinavi è la cultura che conta, non le istituzioni; in particolare la cultura del “lavoro duro” e lo stigma sui scansafatiche:

Good social outcomes in the Nordic countries predate the welfare state because what makes Nordic societies unique is related not to policy—large welfare states can also be found in countries such as Belgium, France, and Spain—but to culture. Over 100 years ago, German sociologist Max Weber observed that Protestant countries in northern Europe tended to have higher living standards, better academic institutions, and more well-functioning societies than countries in other parts of Europe. He attributed their success to the “Protestant work ethic.” The welfare states were introduced only once Nordic societies had already become prosperous and equal.

Inoltre, porta un dato estremamente significativo: gli svedesi in america (notare che chi migra è in genere più povero di chi puo’ restare) oggi sono mediamente più ricchi degli svedesi restati in patria (evidentemente, isolando l’effetto delle istituzioni, quelle svedesi sono meno performanti):

Historically, impoverished people in the Nordic countries were more likely than the rich to sail across the Atlantic to start new lives. Yet despite coming from the poorest rungs of Nordic society, Nordic Americans have become much more affluent than their cousins back in Europe. Today, measured by GDP per capita, Danish Americans’ living standards are 55 percent higher than those of Danes; living standards of Swedish Americans are 53 percent higher than those of Swedes; and Finnish Americans’ living standards are 59 percent higher than the Finns’. Even for Norwegian Americans, who lack the oil wealth of Norway, living standards outpace those of the Norwegians by three percent.

  CONCLUSIONI PERSONALI

Le istituzioni formali dipendono da quelle informali, per quello cio’ che “funziona qua” non “funziona là”. Non si creda allora di poter esportare impunemente il modello scandinavo senza un background culturale adeguato.

 

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