We're often told that the Anglo-Saxon model of social and economic development is superior to the welfare state model of the Nordic countries. Usually, the people telling us this are the minions of the few extremely rich men who control the British press. Social welfare programs make peoples lives too easy, they say. If you featherbed people they will not be motivated to work, and this will result in national economic decline. Look at the United States they exclaim. Look how prosperous they are with their dog eat dog society. We should have more of the same. Well, if I was a billionaire I might very well believe that we should have the same kind of society in the United Kingdom that they have in the United State. But I'm not, and therefore I look at these statements with a degree of skepticism.
Is the Anglo-Saxon model, followed primarily by the United States, the United Kingdom and the countries of the white Commonwealth, actually superior? This article in the Scientific American argues to the contrary. It points out that the Nordic countries have a higher average per capita income, a higher rate of R&D spending, a lower poverty rate and better budget surpluses than the Anglosphere countries. It does concede that the Nordic countries have slightly higher unemployment rate.
There are a number of other measures of performance that might lead one to be skeptical about the view that the Anglo-Saxon model is always better.
Germany, which has less than one third of the population of the United States, exports as much. Germany is far superior to the United States if we take exports as a measure of how well a country can compete in the world economy.
Let's look at another key economic measure, that of employee productivity. France has a higher rate of productivity per employee hour than the United States. That may in part be due to the better education of French employees, compared to those in the United States. Workers in the United States produce more in total, but that is because they work much longer hours than the French
The Finns came first in a recent survey of national educational systems. Several other Nordic countries also rated highly. Neither America nor the United Kingdom came in the first 10. The United States has a fine university system, but it schools are in a deplorable state. The ones in the United Kingdom are not much better.
There are other things that we could look at. One might be the rate at which a country imprisons its citizens. By this measure both the United States and United Kingdom must have truly appalling societies if they find it so necessary to imprison so many of their citizens.