Sweden, en famille

I’m in Stockholm this week, visiting the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), as the guest of Daniel Waldenstrom. The main purpose of the visit is a workshop on inequality – something Swedes don’t have much of, but seem very keen to talk about. At the same time, I hope to find out how Daniel manages to get a CV like this while working 14 hours a week (he’s been on paternity leave since Aug 2006).

This is my first visit to Sweden, and my first trip to Scandinavia travelling with a child. Sweden’s child-friendliness is much-touted, but seeing it up close really makes a strong impression. Many of the parks have sandpits, complete with plastic shovels and buckets (not attached by strings, yet unstolen – puzzling…). On weekends, adults can take up to 6 children (aged <18) on the metro while paying for only one ticket. And every cafe seems to have half a dozen high-chairs available (Ikea, natch). Sweden’s taxes and prices are famously high, but strolling Stockholm, you’re not left in any doubt where the money goes.

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5 Responses to Sweden, en famille

  1. NPOV says:

    That the shovels and buckets aren’t stolen isn’t so puzzling to me…the Swedes have obviously decided that they like collectivised wealth. Much of it sounds very appealing, but the thought of someone like Howard controlling 50% of our GDP…?

  2. NPOV says:

    Having said that, according to Wikipedia:
    “Sweden, in addition to Holland and Switzerland, was distinguished by a high rate of petty crimes, such as bicycle theft”
    So much for that theory.

  3. Kevin Cox says:

    Most such “theft” could be attributed to can’t be bothered returning things or putting them away. Something like the problem we have with shopping trolleys. Few people want to steal them.

    However, those plastic crates were useful for storage so there was a lot more of those “misused”. It is a question of incentives and the difficulty that is caused if you do the wrong thing and get caught.

  4. I hope you also notice Swedish civility on the roads. I was amazed driving in Sweden how well they manage to drive on roads using their common (and brilliant) 2.5 lane roads (just one lane each way but with huge verges that effectively seem to add a lane that is used flexibly in either direction) where cars naturally move to the left allowing easy and safe overtaking at will on rural roads

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