The Nordic Economic Model

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Case Details:

Case Code : ECON026
Case Length : 19 Pages
Period : 1950-2007
Pub. Date : 2008
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : --
Industry : -
Countries : Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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“The top rankings of Switzerland and the Nordic countries show that good institutions and competent macroeconomic management, coupled with world-class educational attainment and a focus on technology and innovation, are a successful strategy for boosting competitiveness in an increasingly complex global economy.”1

- Augusto Lopez-Claros, Chief Economist and Director, Global Competitiveness Network2, in 2006

“The Nordic countries maintain their dynamism despite high taxation in several ways. Most important, they spend lavishly on research and development and higher education. All of them, but especially Sweden and Finland, have taken to the sweeping revolution in information and communications technology and leveraged it to gain global competitiveness.”3

- Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute4, Columbia University, and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General


The September 2007 issue of Reader's Digest, a general interest magazine, ranked 141 countries on the basis of quality of life. The Nordic countries topped the list, with Finland taking the first place followed by Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Denmark was placed tenth. The ranking was based on statistics derived from the Human Development Index5 and the Environmental Sustainability Index6.

The Nordic countries had consistently figured at the top of such lists during the previous decade. Economists credited these countries' economic model for their success as measured by important social and economic indicators such as per capita GDP, employment levels, etc.

The Nordic Economic Model - Next Page>>

1] “Global Competitiveness Report 2006-2007,”

2] Global Competitiveness Network (GCN) of the World Economic Forum publishes several reports through which it identifies impediments to growth and thereby helps stimulate the development of relevant strategies to achieve sustained economic progress. Its flagship publication is the Global Competitiveness Report, a comprehensive assessment of the comparative strengths and weaknesses of national economies, used by governments, academics, and business leaders. (Source:

3] Jeffrey D. Sachs, “Welfare States, Beyond Ideology,”

4] The Earth Institute was established at Columbia University in 1995, with the aim of addressing issues “facing the planet and its inhabitants.” Its focus areas are sustainable development and the needs of the world's poor.

5] The Human Development Index (HDI), developed by Amartya Sen and Mahbub ul Haq, with the assistance of Gustav Ranis, from Yale University, and Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics in 1990, measures three dimensions of human development - life expectancy, literacy, and per capita GDP (PPP). The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has been using the HDI to prepare an annual ranking of countries in its Human Development Report.

6] The Environmental Sustainability Index measures nations on 426 indicators that are broadly grouped under environmental performance, environmental sustainability, environmental vulnerability, well-being, and ecological footprint. The Index was developed by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP) and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) of Columbia University, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Center of the European Commission. (Source:


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