…..Sweden has a large welfare state and is successful. This is often seen as a proof that a ‘third way’ policy between socialism and capitalism works well, and that other nations can reach the same favourable social outcomes by simply expanding the size of government. If one studies Swedish history and society in-depth however it quickly becomes evident that this simplistic analysis is flawed. The Swedish experience might as well be used to argue for the benefits of free-market oriented policies, and as a warning of the economic and social problems that can arise when government involvement in society becomes too large…….In the long run….. even the well-functioning societies in Scandinavia have been adversely impacted by welfare dependency and high levels of taxation. The ‘third way’ policy has not persisted – it can be viewed as a short-lived and failed experiment. Throughout most of its modern history Sweden has had a favourable business environment. The period characterised by the most extensive welfare state policies, where Sweden deviated strongly from the western norm, around 1970-1995, is an exception. That period was associated with a stagnant economy.
…….The transition towards an extensive welfare state that occurred in Sweden led….. to an economic cost in terms of reduced entrepreneurship, as taxes and regulation hindered the development of private businesses. It also led to a significant crowding out of private employment. Between 1950 and 2005, the Swedish population grew from seven to nine million, but net job creation in the private sector was zero. Jobs in the public sector expanded rapidly until the end of the 1970s. As it became difficult to further expand the already large public sector, job creation simply stopped (Bjuggren and Johansson, 2009).