The Public Interest

Sweden: Some Unanswered Questions

Eli Ginzberg

Fall 1970

THE stay-at-home American public knows Sweden as a country with a high suicide rate--a demographic tidbit given wide circulation by the late President Eisenhower; as a producer of movies that reveal more than they hide; and as the home of smorgasbord. The Swedes do have a high suicide rate---but it is probably no higher than our true rate, which social scientists estimate to be about double our reported rate. While they do produce many sexy movies, the "Romeo and Juliet" which is currently making the rounds of the Swedish pornographic circuit was produced in Hollywood. As for smorgasbord, it is put on the menu of a good Stockholm restaurant only with the advent of the tourist season. But even if the popular beliefs about suicide, cinema, and smorgasbord were correct, they would not provide an understanding of the most successful economy outside the United States or of a society that has been led by a Social Democratic government for the last three decades and which has neither urban slums nor rural poverty.

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