North­ern Lights: The pos­i­tive pol­icy ex­am­ple of Swe­den, Fin­land, Den­mark and Nor­way

An­drew Scott Monash, $ 39.95

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At a time of ris­ing in­equal­ity and public pol­icy in­er­tia, this book sheds some light on how Australia might rein­vent the lucky coun­try. Scott teaches pol­i­tics at Deakin Uni­ver­sity and fo­cuses on some of the pol­icy suc­cesses that th­ese coun­tries have had in com­bin­ing strong eco­nomic and pro­duc­tiv­ity growth with so­cial co­he­sion. He looks at child poverty poli­cies in Swe­den, school ed­u­ca­tion in Fin­land, skills pro­grams in Den­mark and re­source tax­a­tion in Nor­way. Scott as­serts that equal­ity is good for growth and that th­ese poli­cies have been im­por­tant in achiev­ing this out­come in th­ese four coun­tries. While this is a good book, Scott could have spent more time analysing why th­ese coun­tries dif­fer from Australia, not just how. One place to start is the po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment that fol­lowed con­flict in early 20th cen­tury, and the fact th­ese coun­tries are far more ho­moge­nous than Australia. He tries to make the case that Swe­den has had strong migration in re­cent decades but it can­not be com­pared to Australia’s over­seas born pop­u­la­tion.

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