Jerry Newcombe
Is socialism the source of Scandinavian happiness?
By Jerry Newcombe
March 22, 2017

The results of a new study were announced this week, and they are consistent with previous findings. The five million or so people who live in the Scandinavian country of Norway are among the happiest on earth.

Writing for Reuters (3/20/17), Patricia Reaney noted: "Norway displaced Denmark as the world's happiest country in a new report released on Monday" in a study that ranked 155 nations on earth. The United States ranked as 14th happiest, down from 13th last year.

At the bottom of the list? "Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Syria and Yemen." The research was conducted and compiled by the UN for the World Happiness Report 2017.

Reaney adds, "The rankings are based on six factors – per capita gross domestic product, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and absence of corruption in government or business."

Norway often tops the list of happiest nations. Why is that? It's not the weather. Meanwhile, there are many beautiful places throughout Norway, including the fjords.

My wife is from Norway. We were married in Norway. Most of her family still lives there. We have visited many times. Why do Norwegians tend to be happier?

I would argue that it is the Christian values that can still be found in many parts of Norway. Even today's secular-minded Norwegians are benefiting from Christianity's residue. About a millennium ago, Norway was the scourge of Europe, with the Vikings ravaging people all over the Continent. "God, save us from the Normans," went up the prayers. And God answered by converting the Vikings to Jesus. It's one of the great stories of history.

Now Norway, formerly the land of Viking violence, hands out international peace prizes.

When the Reformation took place some 500 years ago, the Scandinavian countries threw their lot with Martin Luther and company. To this day, many of the state-churches in the Scandinavian countries are Lutheran.

When Bernie Sanders ran against Hilary Clinton on the Democratic side of the aisle last year, he made a big deal about the alleged success of the socialism of the Scandinavian countries. Others made similar points. Scandinavia flourishes because it is socialist lite. Were they correct?

Nima Sanandaji, whose family is from Iran, is from Sweden and is the author of the book, Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism (WND Books, 2016).

In an interview we did for one of our D. James Kennedy Ministries television specials exposing the problems of socialism, Sanandaji told me, "Nordic countries are not socialist. The prime minister of Denmark came to the U.S. at the end of 2015, went to Harvard, and spoke, and he said in effect, 'Stop saying that Denmark is socialist; we're a market economy.' And he's absolutely right, throughout their history...Nordic countries have been perhaps the best example of how free markets create prosperity; and how high taxes, overly generous welfare, have destroyed the same prosperity. Today Nordic countries are very much market economies. They respect private property."

Sanandaji drilled deeper: "Nordic countries are successful because of their unique culture, and this is why socialists only point to Nordic countries [as examples of "successful socialism"] because their success predates the welfare state and is because of culture, and their economic success is because of free markets. That is why they can never find a good case for socialism which is not about Nordic countries. It's all smoke and mirrors." [Emphasis mine].

Sanandaji points out in his book that Scandinavians who left Norway, Denmark, Sweden, etc. about a hundred years ago, when compared with their Nordic cousins who never left, tend to fare better by any comparison. He said, "Nordic-Americans, because they have a Nordic culture of success, are already more successful than the Nordic people." He said there are 12 million Nordic-Americans, and they "have a 50 percent higher living standard" than do their cousins who never left Scandinavia.

Nima said something we don't hear often: "Culture matters, and so what is Nordic cultural success? Now it has a lot to do with this Protestant, Lutheran working ethics – Protestant, Lutheran responsibility ethics, and the unfortunate thing is that that ethic has gradually been declining over time."

Sanandaji, an atheist, cannot be accused of a Christian bias. Yet he says retaining the Judeo-Christian traditions will be key to the future survival of the West.

Seeing the average Norwegian enjoying so many positive benefits tied to their national Christian heritage does not surprise me. They are consistently listed as among the happiest nations on earth. That is primarily because of their Christian heritage, which, sadly, is fading over time.

At the end of the day, each of us is as happy as we make up our mind to be. To paraphrase that quintessential colonial American, Ben Franklin: Contentment makes poor men rich. Discontentment makes rich men poor.

© Jerry Newcombe


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Jerry Newcombe

Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is the executive director of the Providence Forum, an outreach of D. James Kennedy Ministries, where Jerry also serves as senior producer and an on-air host. He has written/co-written 33 books, including George Washington's Sacred Fire (with Providence Forum founder Peter Lillback, Ph.D.) and What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (with D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.). @newcombejerry


Receive future articles by Jerry Newcombe: Click here

More by this author


Stephen Stone
The most egregious lies Evan McMullin and the media have told about Sen. Mike Lee

Siena Hoefling
Protect the Children: Update with VIDEO

Stephen Stone
Flashback: Dems' fake claim that Trump and Utah congressional hopeful Burgess Owens want 'renewed nuclear testing' blows up when examined

Linda Goudsmit
CHAPTER 7: Politicized education

Pete Riehm
Often the dumbest are the most dangerous

Matt C. Abbott
Taking secrets to the grave: Father Kunz murder, 26 years unsolved

Rev. Mark H. Creech
Revelation Chapter 21: A narrative of two cities, exploring the heavenly city

Curtis Dahlgren
'Tis the season for vote buying and lying; smarty pants on fire

Madeline Crabb
The intentional takedown of America: Part two

Jerry Newcombe
The presidents and faith

Michael Bresciani
Trump says he will seek no revenge

Linda Goudsmit
CHAPTER 6: 'An unaware and compliant citizenry'

Pete Riehm
Escape from New York before the Empire State strikes again!

Michael Bresciani
What is a prophet? Are there prophets in our world today?

Steve A. Stone
The world as I view it today
  More columns


Click for full cartoon
More cartoons


Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites