In the first part of the article the author points out the outstanding performance of the Nordic countries in comparison to other countries (not only the EU member states) on a very wide range of economic and social indicators: growth, labour productivity, research and development investment, liberalised product and service markets, rates of employment, welfare benefits, physical and social infrastructure. The development of the Nordic states since at least mid-1990s has shown that they have managed to create socially generous and even societies as well as highly competitive, flexible and efficient ones. Therefore, the latest Scandinavian experiences appear to have gone beyond the simplistic debate over liberalisation versus protectionism, or free market capitalism versus the welfare state, which is so prevalent in Europe today. The article argues that the Nordic social model could become an important source of inspiration for other countries in Europe, including Poland, despite its specifity based on a number of cultural, historical and regional factors connected with Scandinavia. Among the major lessons which can be learned about the Nordic model are the following observations. It is not the size of the state which matters, but its quality. The public sector and institutionalized social dialogue can be very effective instruments for economic and social reform. One of the distinctive features of the Nordic countries is the strategy of 'flexicurity' - combination of flexible regulation, strongly developed systems of social security for the unemployed and an active labour market policy. A further reason for the success is a high level of investment in education and research. Last but not least, Nordic governments are leading the way in establishing a high degree of coherence between economic, social and ecological policies.
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