Northern Lights: The positive policy example of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway
Andrew Scott Monash, $ 39.95
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.