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Social Trust in the Nordic World (Paperback)

P&S History > Social Science & Culture > Anthropology & Sociology

Imprint: Aarhus University Press
Series: The Nordic World
Pages: 120
Illustrations: 15 Colour illustrations
ISBN: 9788772195926
Published: 15th August 2024
Casemate UK Academic



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Study after study has shown that Scandinavia is the most trusting region in the world. Danes in particular trust other people and organizations—including strangers, businesses, governments, law enforcement, and media—more than the citizens of any other country. And countries with deep pools of social trust are populated by individuals who cooperate with each other in ways that allow public and private institutions to function more efficiently and cheaply.


Is the Nordic countries’ high level of social trust just as important for creating prosperity and happiness within a population as other, more tangible economic factors? If so, where does this stock of social trust in Scandinavia come from? Does it help to explain the development of the universal welfare states and their surprisingly high business competitiveness? Can other nations learn from the region and apply that knowledge to settings where social trust levels are low or in danger of erosion?


Social trust has proven economic value, and Gert Tinggaard Svendsen and Christian Bjørnskov warn that its benefits should never be taken for granted. Trust can dissolve and vanish quickly, and once gone, it is very difficult to rebuild. Governments and corporations are gradually increasing their control over people’s public and private lives, with predictably worrying results. When people feel taken advantage of or lied to, public confidence evaporates. Since strong social cohesion drives long-term prosperity, Nordic exceptionalism on maintaining and restoring trust offers valuable lessons.

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