Take one look at international reports that measure different indices such as competition, productivity, economic growth, equal opportunities, innovation, quality of life, happiness, etc., and you often find the Nordic countries, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland at the top of these lists. It seems like these countries have done something right and also have something in common that has taken them to where they are today. How have these small countries, close to the arctic circle, that suffered poverty and population flight in the 1800s, now topped so many surveys? It’s the so-called Nordic Model.
This is interesting to look at in a political context where conflict and differences are the new mantras. Globally, it seems like it’s better to find ways to disagree rather than find common ground. It seems better to talk about what divides us rather than what’s bringing us together; it’s very much about right or wrong. Of course, these tendencies also reach the Nordic countries. The last financial crisis, globalization, digitalization, and also a big migration to Europe are challenging for the region. A lot of people feel that things are getting worse when facts show the opposite.
So the question is: will it be possible for the Nordic countries to use their historically strong position of values and development to meet all these challenges? There’s a debate about if these common values of equal rights, free trade, and a market economy are right for the future. So, is it possible to meet these challenges with new answers, and who are the main actors?