Tim Bunn had an interesting piece in The Post Standard the other day, about the political economy of Denmark.
Some other factoids to add in: The New York Times did a study a while back, which showed that upward mobility in the Scandinavian countries was actually higher than in the U.S., which ranked similarly to Britain. An article of faith about our high levels of inequality and poverty (the latter defined relative to our own society and not in absolute terms) is that we also have high levels of upward mobility--hence the American Dream. It turns out that we've slipped in this area over the years, compared with our peer nations. By providing a firmer springboard at the bottom tiers of the income distribution, it appears that some other Western countries enable more people--or at least their kids--to jump into the middle and upper tiers.
Also, and perhaps counter-intuitively, many of the higher tax nations in the Western world have comparatively flatter income tax schemes. Countries with smaller public sectors like the U.S. and even Britain favor more progressive arrangements. This might be connected to the upward mobility statistics in ways that conservatives would recognize--their taxes bite the same from the get-go, so there's no disincentive to earning more. And if you're going to have much higher taxation, as Denmark does, then it might also make more sense to have fully inclusive social programs and a revenue stream that takes the same from everyone.
Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.
In addition to comments, I'd love to have guest posts. Please send ideas or full-blown posts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.