Subhash Thakur, Valerie Cerra, Balázs Horváth, and Michael Keen
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
Sweden has long been viewed as epitomizing a particular approach to economic and social policy. To its advocates, the Swedish welfare state builds on a strong social consensus favoring extensive state intervention to ensure a high quality of life for all Swedes. To its critics, the Swedish system is marked by excessive government intervention and attendant inefficiencies. These contrasting views are captured in imagery used by Prime Minister Göran Persson: "Think of a bumblebee. With its overly heavy body and little wings, supposedly it should not be able to fly--but it does." The Swedish welfare state is the bumblebee that has managed to fly. This book draws on many years of IMF surveillance and policy advice to explain how it has done so, to assess the challenges that the Swedish model faces in the new century, to propose a strategy for dealing with those challenges, and to draw lessons for the many other countries that face similar challenges from globalization and demographics.