Edited by Erik S. Reinert, Jayati Ghosh and Rainer Kattel
Chapter 29: The Nordic route to development
The label ‘Nordic model’ is applied in increasingly diverse ways, but the following account concentrates on one of the classic uses: the suggestion that the development of the Nordic countries can serve as a role model for the development of developing countries aiming to catch up with the leading economies. The label ‘Norden’ here refers to the five larger Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, the main members of the regional organization, the Nordic Council. While many actors – such as the Nordic agencies of development assistance – claim that there are Nordic policy ideas that may be transferred, my point of departure is a detailed historical and comparative investigation of Nordic development patterns since the industrial revolution and on to the 1970s. For experience to be transferred, I provide a lot of historical experiences, but the crux of the matter is that there can only be learning if there is symmetric contextualization at the receiving end. I return to this topic in the conclusion. This chapter has two major points of departure. First, my use of the term ‘model’ as a social science concept applies to large units, such as nation-states, phases of the world economy, regions (in the world economy or within countries), or international regimes. In the following, I deal with nation-states and regional clusters of such states. I rely on social science research leading to case-based macro-comparisons between countries, but of course not disregarding their integration into a broader world-economic setting.
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