The Difference Between the Well-Being of US and Scandinavian Citizens

Welfare is government support for the citizen and residents of society. It may be provided to people of any income level, as with social security, but usually, it is intended to ensure that the poor can meet their basic human needs such as food and shelter. The Nordic welfare model is the most expensive, most comprehensive model, funded by a high tax. A welfare state may be a reflection of the relationship between a country’s government and its citizens, it also emphasizes the expectation of the citizens for the government to provide services.

There are some differences between US citizen with their welfare state and the Nordic citizens such as the individual responsibility and the universality.

Americans have a strong feeling in taking responsibility for their own lives. They believe that their self-reliance, and initiative, are the main steps to get out of impoverished lifestyles. In their perspective, they state that it should be better than hard working and still being poor is viewed than not working and being on welfare.

According to “Workers and Welfare: Poverty, Coping Strategies, and Substance Abuse”, Sherman mentioned that : “Receiving welfare was so shameful an stigmatizing that many people in Golden Valley confessed to having traveled an hour or more to spend their food stamps in other communities just to avoid being seen by people they knew.” (Sherman, p. 70). Some people want to stay poor to get the welfare, and this scenario can is seen in many generations. Their kids follow the welfare system to survive because they believe that the government will support them in areas such as education, food, shelter.

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Additionally, many of them believe that they don’t need to work to afford their life. Many people think that welfare will spoil the younger generation and give them too many things for free, which will create a laziness mindset of working. This will make American labor go down because they don’t want to try their best in any career and instead want to pursue welfare. Although people that participate in the illegal or “under the table” ways make a lot of money, they still want to stay out these illegal actions. People feel better about themselves and maintain their dignity when they stay away from unlawful acts. They want to keep their self-esteem high by refraining themselves from illegal activities because they want a good reputation for themselves. Moreover, many people don’t want to be stereotyped as lazy when they get welfare during a moment of financial hardship. A clear example of this situation is mentioned in Sherman’s article, which is of a couple named Emily and Bud. In this example, the couple accepted food stamps for two months while Emily was pregnant and Bud was laid off. They want to get out of the moral capital about relying on welfare since they feel shameful when they get the welfare.

On the other sides, the Nordic citizens have some differences with American citizen feeling about the deep-rooted anti-government. The citizens in Nordic governments are always waiting for the government to support them in as many situations as they can. The system has a strong emphasis on social and economic equality for everybody. According to “The Nordic Countries,” Kauto stated that: “ One of the aims in developing public solutions was to normalize the receipt of social security and to get away from the stigma associated with receiving public support” ( Kauto, P.591). It is obvious that society has a responsibility to support the Nordic citizens sufficiently enough to get over the difficulty in their situation.

Besides that, they have high employment rates, both for men and women and older people to work. Nordic countries have the social structure and cultural values that are conducive to gender equality. The structure is always ready for supporting the people to prepare the full amount to afford their lives. The reason leads to this outcome because they believe that the poor relief was transfer from the church to state which pushes support for the poor society. According to Kautto, “The responsibility for poor relief was transferred from church to state, and a centralized state power was weak, local civil authorities have delegated the task of taking care of those who could not support themselves” (Kautto, P.588). This reason established that the Nordic structure has the responsibility for providing the support to the citizens’ sufficient fund for their lives.

America’s welfare model provides enough support for the citizen to survive with the basic foundations. They divide the different types of citizens to get support from the government. However, healthcare is so expensive that welfare doesn’t allow the family to obtain it. Many low-income families don’t have a budget large enough to purchase healthcare, and they accept to live without any coverage. According to ABC News, Reinberg mentions that: “About 30 percent of young adults 18 to 24 do not have the usual source of medical care, and 30 percent have no health insurance.” (Reinberg, Almost 1 in 5 Americans Going Without Health Care) . Furthermore, the American welfare model doesn’t have many benefits for the people who have not belonged to the paid workforce, such as disabled people and unemployed people. There are many workers worked under a dangerous condition which make many injuries for themselves, but the disable insurance is not adequate to support their lives expense.

However, most of the disabled people don’t have many opportunities for seeking a job because the recruiters don’t want to employ them. Besides that, the American government also support the limitation for the unemployment benefits that cannot afford for their lives. According to Sherman, the author mentioned about the unemployment insurance that: “It is rarely conceived of as government assistance as such, but rather is viewed as income that a person deserves and has basically worked for” (Sherman, P.69).

The Nordic welfare model has the same principle as the American system of supporting the people who have been at work with the benefits. However, while the American model doesn’t support the group of people have not been in the paid workforce such as disabled people, unemployed people, Scandinavia’s welfare benefits are for all citizens. They believe that everybody has the rights to earn the social security system and doesn’t matter that you work or not. They want to make sure that every citizen in their countries has full health care system. Besides that, the amount for the insurance will increase when they meet difficult times from illness or unemployment. According to Kautto: “ Nordic social policies were designed as trampolines that would allow the unemployed to “bounce back,’ favoring risk-taking and job change in dynamic labor markets through active labor market policies” (Kautto, p.592).

The American welfare model and the Nordic welfare model have many differences between each other. While the American citizen has the strong individual feeling to take responsibility for their own life because they don’t want to be assumed lazy, the Nordic citizen believes that government will afford them everything. Besides that, while the US universality has the limitation in selecting and choosing types of people into two groups, the Nordic generalization want every citizen to have the welfare to afford their lives.


  1. Reinberg, Steven. “Almost 1 in 5 Americans Going Without Health Care.” ABC News, ABC News Network,
  2. Kautto, Mikko. “Chapter 40: The Nordic Countries .” The Oxford Handbook Of The Welfare State , pp. 586–600.
  3. Sherman, Jennifer. “Chapter 2 Workers and Welfare: Poverty, Coping Strategies, and Substance Abuse .” Those Who Work, Those Who Don’t: Poverty, Morality, and Family in Rural America, University of Minnesota Press, 2009, pp. 55–100.

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The Difference Between the Well-Being of US and Scandinavian Citizens. (2022, Apr 26). Retrieved from

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