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Whose economy? Scotland in Northern Europe: balancing dynamic economies with greater social equality . Whose Economy? Poverty and Inequality. Whose Economy? Oxfam/UWS seminar series.

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whose economy scotland in northern europe balancing dynamic economies with greater social equality
Whose economy? Scotland in Northern Europe: balancing dynamic economies with greater social equality
whose economy oxfam uws seminar series
Whose Economy? Oxfam/UWS seminar series
  • Why persistent poverty exists alongside high economic prosperity, leading to significant inequalities in income and wealth, and in life chances and lifestyles, between individuals and communities. Why, despite decades of economic growth, regeneration and anti-poverty policies, many Scots face a life characterised by high mortality, economic inactivity, mental and physical ill-health, poor educational attainment, and increasing exclusion.
  • Conclusion: Our Economy, A Whose Economy Seminar Paper, June 2011,

Why do we have less poverty than the United States, but much more than Norway, Sweden and Denmark? The reasons lie very much more in the distribution systems of the respective countries than in the personal behaviour of people in poverty. Why some affluent Western democracies maintain substantial poverty and others are more egalitarian and accomplish low levels of poverty is mainly due to “the generosity of the welfare state”.

Adrian Sinfield, Whose welfare state now?, in Whose Economy?, http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/download?Id=436761&dl=http://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/oxfam/bitstream/10546/188809/5/dp-whose-economy-papers-complete-series-010911-en.pdf

recent quote
Recent quote
  • The prime minister said: “there are countries in Europe, small countries that make it on their own, but ... we are better off, we are stronger together, we're fairer together, we're richer together”.
  • So must be able to measure strength, fairness, richness and so compare. And, given what we’ve heard here already this morning, can we identify an even better way?
  • Are there countries that are more resilient, robust, competitive [stronger], more equal with less poverty, greater gender equality and a progressive tax/welfare system [fairer] and more prosperous [richer]?
scotland s long term gdp growth performance 1975 2005
Scotland's long-term GDP growth performance (1975-2005)

Source: Eurostat, OECD, Scottish Government

income inequality in selected oecd countries
Income inequality in selected OECD countries

Source: OECD (2008), Growing Unequal? Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries.

tu membership density 2008
TU Membership Density (2008)

over 90% in Finland;

80%–89% in Belgium and Sweden;

70%–79% in Denmark and Norway;

60%–69% in Italy;

50%–59% in Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta;

40%–49% in Romania;

30%–39% in Austria, Ireland and Slovenia;

20%–29% in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK;

10%–19% in Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Spain;

below 10% in Estonia and Lithuania.

Higher among women than among men in half of the 20 countries examined – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovenia and Sweden

gender equality
Gender equality
  • Proportion in Parliament
  • Proportion on Company Boards
  • CEOs
  • Childcare
  • Etc.
press freedom index 2011 2012 reporters without borders
Press Freedom Index 2011/2012, Reporters without Borders


the global competitiveness index 2011 2012 rankings and 2010 2011 comparisons
The Global Competitiveness Index 2011–2012 rankings and 2010–2011 comparisons

World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012, http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GCR_Report_2011-12.pdf

entrepreneurial activity rates scotland uk arc of prosperity countries 2000 to 2007
Entrepreneurial activity rates -Scotland, UK, Arc of Prosperity countries, 2000 to 2007
R&D investments by ICT Scoreboard firms per country of registered headquarters in theEU, in millions of € (2005-2008)
eu member states innovation performance
EU Member States’ innovation performance

Innovation leaders: Denmark, Finland, Germany, Sweden all show a performance well above that of the EU27 average


Once again, Norwegians rank among the happiest people in the world, behind only their fellow Nordic neighbours in Denmark and Finland. The latest Gallup World Poll indicates that the Nordic countries, with their social welfare states and relative affluence, must be doing something right.

Only the people of Iceland were missing when four out of the five Nordic countries grabbed the top spots on the Gallup World Poll’s list. Sweden ranked just after Norway in a tie for fourth place .

Forbes Magazine, from OECD report


In Norway, also considered by the United Nations to be the world’s best place to live, fully 69 percent of the population were said to be thriving while none of the respondents was “suffering.” But 31 percent were considered to be “struggling,” compared to 30 percent in Sweden, even though the economy in Sweden is considered to be weaker than Norway’s.

happiest countries in the world oecd plus economic stability
‘Happiest countries in the world’ [OECD plus economic stability]

10. Austria 9. Israel 8. Finland 7. Switzerland 6. Sweden5. The Netherlands 4. Australia3. Norway 2. Canada 1. Denmark

Human Development Report 2011 - Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All Human Development Index
the road to a better place
The Road to a Better Place?
  • Can we join this group – that is move into the high income, high wealth, sustainable, low inequality, high opportunity, coherent economy and society?
the arc of prosperity becomes
The Arc of Prosperitybecomes
  • ‘the arc of insolvency’
  • ‘the arc of darkness’
  • ‘the arc of delusion’

“Only prudent Norway is holding its head above water”. • Associated Press: “Iceland teeters on the brink of bankruptcy”• International Herald Tribune: “Iceland is all but officially bankrupt”• Forbes: “Iceland teeters on bankruptcy”• New York Times: “Iceland, in financial collapse...”

financial crisis
Financial crisis
  • Surely small countries cannot cope ~ Nordic model(s) ‘not sustainable’
  • Better together
  • Protection
  • Support
  • Recovery
banking crises
Banking crises

IMF Report:

During the past twenty years we have witnessed several major crises throughout the financial world. The IMF study of banking crises around the world reveals that 133 countries experienced significant banking sector problems at some stage during the years 1980-1995. The amount of public expenditure needed for resolving the crises and reviving banking sector activity has been remarkable in all countries. According to the above-mentioned IMF study, in some 25% of the crises, the costs exceeded 10% of GNP. The figures from the Nordic countries show that taxpayers' costs have ranged from 3% (Norway) to 8% (Finland) of GNP. Considering that not only the government budget but the whole economy suffers from such a crisis, it is understandable that the countries around the world, together with international organisations, have joined forces to determine the most efficient ways to avoid systemic financial crises.

the arc of prosperity become the arc of insolvency
“The arc of prosperity become the arc of insolvency”

Sweden and Norway had banking crises in the early Nineties. The Scandinavian banks collapsed after ... a credit and property bubble in the 1980s that burst just like ours. The Norwegian government moved quickly, driving down the shares of the banks to zero, nationalising many and taking an equity stake in the rest. It restructured and recapitalised the banks and then sold them off, so that the Norwegian taxpayers didn’t lose and the bankers didn’t get bailed out.


stopping a financial crisis the swedish way
Stopping a Financial Crisis, the Swedish Way

A banking system in crisis after the collapse of a housing bubble. An economy hemorrhaging jobs. A market-oriented government struggling to stem the panic. . banking system was, for all practical purposes, insolvent. … [but 3 years later, Sweden back on track]

But the final cost to Sweden ended up being less than 2 percent of its G.D.P. Some officials say they believe it was closer to zero, [with more returns to come].

However, the reforms enacted during the 1990s seem to have created a model in which extensive welfare benefits can be maintained in a global economy.

NY Times

view from wall street
View from Wall Street

The happiest countries seem to be places where there is a good balance of work and leisure time. Not all nations can afford to keep unemployment low through government subsidies. Not all countries can afford to provide universal medical coverage. Not all countries can afford to educate almost all of their children, which in turn supports extremely high literacy rates and builds a population of skilled workers.

24/7 Wall St

together or not
Together or not:

The prime minister said: “there are countries in Europe, small countries that make it on their own, but ...

we are betteroff X

we are stronger X

we're fairer X

we're richer X

impacts of poverty
Impacts of poverty
  • poor in a rich country intensely stressful
  • made worse by stigmatisation both in the media and as result of political rhetoric.
  • Pressures to consume stem from a culture that elevates passions and image above relationships, community contribution, and care for others and the environment
  • There must be a better way
routes out of poverty
Routes out of poverty
  • Possible to overcome poverty, 6th richest => adequate resources. Need allocation in more effective and sustainable way.
  • Greater role for businesses: paying taxes, ↑ employment of those further from the labour market, offering decent jobs in sustainable industries.
  • Higher expectation on businesses to deliver social sustainability, particularly in return for the array of state support that businesses receive.
social protection and equality
Social protection and equality
  • social protection measures (education, NMW and social safety nets) strong mechanisms to increase equality.
  • they are a collectivegood- all depend on and all benefit, cf. financial drain.
  • funded fairly by progressive taxation.
  • Collective ownership, management => genuine participation in all economic activity – sharing ownership, work, and rewards
can we move from poverty prosperity
Can we move from poverty - prosperity
  • new prosperity, a shared future where we are simply better at sharing, where there are fewer extremes of money and wealth, esteem and status, power and position.
  • community-led economy focused on quality and distribution of growth, where the assets of communities and the value of individuals are utilised and enhanced to promote social and environmental sustainability.
size matters
Size matters

Iceland's Finance Minister SteingrimurSigfusson has told the BBC that his country's size has been crucial in the move towards recovery: "You are quicker turning a small boat around than a big ship."