Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Ratio Working Papers,
The Ratio Institute

No 34: Dignity and the Burden of the Welfare State

Nils Karlson ()
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Nils Karlson: The Ratio Institute, Postal: P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: The burden of the welfare state may be analysed from an economic as well as a more normative perspective. This paper attempts to do both things. By the use of the case of Sweden the expansion and the costs of the welfare state is described, partly in international comparison, and explained, largely in terms of unintended consequences. Special attention is given to the effects of taxes. Next, the concept of dignity is explicated and used to evaluate the Swedish welfare state. The overall conclusion is that the burden of the welfare state is high indeed, both in economic terms and from the perspective of human dignity. Consequently, if we want to promote economic efficiency, growth and dignity the size of the state should be radically decreased.

Keywords: welfare state; taxes; efficiency; welfare; dignity

JEL-codes: H11; H20; I31; I38; O10

23 pages, April 28, 2004

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