July 14, 2005

THE CASE FOR DIS-INTEGRATION:

Innovation Gives Finland A Firm Grasp on Its Future: Economy Offers a New Model for Old Europe (Robert G. Kaiser, July 14, 2005, Washington Post)

The political and economic malaise that afflicts so much of Europe this summer has not infected this northernmost outpost of the European Union. The contrast between Finland's optimism about the future and Old Europe's gloom is striking. [...]

Not that Finns have all the answers. Like all Europeans, they are producing too few babies to pay the promised welfare-state benefits to an ever-growing contingent of senior citizens. The new jobs created by their high-tech successes have been matched by losses from low-tech plant closures, so unemployment remains high -- about 10 percent.

Nevertheless, the Finns know they are much better placed now than many of their Old Europe neighbors to the south. Exploiting their small size (5.2 million people) and ethnic homogeneity, the Finns have proven themselves successful experimenters and innovators.

Fifteen years ago, Finland faced a full-scale depression, brought on by the loss of the country's most important markets as the Soviet Union disintegrated. Unemployment soared to 20 percent. But the Finns took control of their future, made painful adjustments and came out of the crisis with an economy that the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ranks as the most competitive in the world.


Unfortunately for Europeanists, the Finland model demonstrates the wisdom -- or good fortune -- of being a small and utterly homogenous state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 14, 2005 6:48 AM
Comments

I bet they don't have many potential suicide bombers to worry about.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 14, 2005 1:59 PM

Actually, Rob, there's a significant minority of Swedish-speaking ethnic Swedes in Finland, who while Finnish have never fully assimilated into the local culture.

The contrast between that group and, say, Pakastani-British is an interesting one.

Posted by: Mike Earl at July 14, 2005 2:25 PM

Actually, Rob, there's a significant minority of Swedish-speaking ethnic Swedes in Finland, who while Finnish have never fully assimilated into the local culture.

The contrast between that group and, say, Pakastani-British is an interesting one.

Posted by: Mike Earl at July 14, 2005 2:28 PM

But you can't tell that to Osama bin Cohen.

Finland is also very sparsely populated which adds to its ability to have economic growth. 5 million people don't consume all that much and much of Finnish energy production is domestic.

Posted by: bart at July 14, 2005 3:28 PM

Did Finland choose biomass or solar (snicker) for their domestic energy needs? Nope, they are building another nuclear power plant. Smart people.

Posted by: Daran at July 14, 2005 3:46 PM

Bart: I'd be more insulted if that was at all coherent.

As for the Finns, their economic model was to have Nokia get into cell phones.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 14, 2005 3:50 PM

See, if you want to get my goat, you'd point out my frequent typos and misspellings, which are just incredibly embarrassing.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 14, 2005 6:06 PM

are finnish women hot ?

Posted by: cjm at July 14, 2005 6:38 PM

The trouble with Finland is that all their eggs are (economically) in one basket: Nokia. I don't think that this is a very comfortable situation.

I've not been to Finland, but every Finn I've known has been great (all two of them!).

Alastair

Posted by: Alastair at July 14, 2005 8:06 PM
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