Andrighetto et al. | Are Some Countries More Honest than Others? Evidence from a Tax Compliance Experiment in Sweden and Italy

This study examines cultural differences in ordinary dishonesty between Italy and Sweden, two countries with different reputations for trustworthiness and probity. Exploiting a set of cross-cultural tax compliance experiments, we find that the average level of tax evasion (as a measure of ordinary dishonesty) does not differ significantly between Swedes and Italians. However, we also uncover differences in national “styles” of dishonesty. Specifically, while Swedes are more likely to be either completely honest or completely dishonest in their fiscal declarations, Italians are more prone to fudging (i.e., cheating by a small amount). We discuss the implications of these findings for the evolution and enforcement of honesty norms.

Sven Steinmo | Bucking the Trend? The Welfare State and the Global Economy: The Swedish Case Up Close

The conventional ‘globalization’ thesis predicts that increased factor mobility will reshape political incentives across the world. According to the most dire predictions, capital and labour will flee welfare states in favour of jurisdictions where they will find cheaper employees, less restrictive governmental regulations and lower taxes. This argument specifically suggests that countries with very heavy tax burdens will be the most vulnerable to the competitive forces in the new global economy. Finally, this theory suggests that political leaders in high tax countries will have no alternative other than to reduce tax burdens and ultimately roll back welfare state spending–else they suffer the wrath of profit-maximizing investors and alienated voters. 

Armin Schäfer et al. | Politics in Age of Austerity: Governing as an Engineering Problem: The Political Economy of Swedish Success

Sweden is once again attracting the attention of scholars and pundits from around the world because of its apparent ability to pull together high levels of economic growth and remarkably egalitarian outcomes. Indeed, in the context of the most recent economic crisis sweeping the globe, Sweden stands out as one of the most successful countries in Europe in terms of fiscal resilience and economic growth. Swedes are clearly very satisfied with their system, one that many consider among the most ‘democratic’ in the world. Certainly fiscal stress, economic com- petition and demographic change are constraining the choices available to leaders in all rich democracies, but it appears that the straightjacket has a much looser fit in Sweden. The quetion is, why?

Sven Steinmo | Globalization and Taxation: Challenges to the Swedish Welfare State 

Many have argued that the increased international mobility of both capital and labor witnessed in recent years will force advanced capitalist democracies to cut taxes and, thus, ultimately roll back their welfare states. This analysis tests this hypothesis through an examination of policy developments in Sweden, the country with the world’s heaviest tax burden and largest social welfare state. The analysis focuses on the history and structure of taxation policy (the policy arena predicted to be most directly affected by globalization). The findings reveal that there have been very important changes in the Swedish welfare state: The tax and spending regimes have been changed less than the globalization thesis predicts. This analysis argues that Sweden has indeed adapted and changed in recent years but finds little support for the more dire thesis that countries like Sweden must abandon their high-tax regimes and/or their generous social welfare systems.