Europe 1961-Notes on the Margin

Europe 1961-Notes on the Margin


Liberals can always be made uneasy when told the “fact” that suicide rates and other indices of social disorganization are very high in the Scandinavian countries under the welfare state. This “fact,” it turns out, just isn’t one. The Norwegian suicide rate is below the American, and among the lowest in Europe, while the Danish and Swedish rates are, indeed, quite high. Since all these countries have been living under the welfare state for a long time, their different rates can hardly be due to the “softness” of welfare measures. Swedish rates have been about three times as high as Norwegian rates since the beginning of the century, i.e., since long before Socialist parties achieved government power. The Swedish divorce rate is high, though not as high as that of the United States or of. . .Egypt, but the Norwegian rate is quite low. Crime statistics, and statistics of juvenile delinquency tell the same story.

Youth is said to be bored with and disaffected from the Welfare State. Maybe so, but in the recent Swedish elections the youngest group of voters voted more heavily for the Social Democratic Party than any other age group.

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