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The New Nordic Model

How to Reconcile Free Trade, Patriotism, and Inclusivity

A Syrian refugee couple reunites in Bergen, Norway, November 2016 Bradley Secker / laif / Redux

Countries everywhere face daunting socioeconomic challenges. Inequality is rising. Cohesion is weakening as societies undergo identity crises. And as demonstrations from Santiago to Paris to Beirut show, trust in government is in decline.

In their search for culprits, many voters and politicians blame trade, technology, and migration. But this leads to a seemingly unsolvable puzzle. If people are increasingly angry; if they think that no good can come from trade, technology, or migration; and if they don’t trust their governments or fellow citizens to provide a solution, then what can be done?

The Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden—show that there is a way. The Nordic model that they have pioneered over decades has a few basic components: a welfare state with free, high-quality education and health care; a “flexicurity” model of employment, which combines flexible hiring and firing with strong social security; and

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