The Corner

Greetings From Sweden

From a reader:

Greets from Sweden! Long-time reader, etc. etc.

Still, a couple of points regarding:

a) Christianity. The Romans never set foot in Sweden – or any part of

Scandinavia for that matter. Rather, we were converted the

old-fashioned way – by missionaries. Of course, we retained lots of

pagan traditions, etc.

b) Family formation. Merely looking at marriage rates in the case of

Sweden is somewhat misleading. There are currently plenty of

low-calory (I can’t believe it’s not butter!) alternatives to marriage

here in Sweden, that offer less legal protection than marriage

(cohabitation), but in exchange is more flexible. Also, there are some

pretty established schemes for minimising the impact of divorce in

place, with shared custody, etc.

c) Fertility. Sweden is indeed a notch or two above much of Europe

when it comes to child-rearing. Do subsidies for child-rearing

(day-care, direct subsidies, etc.) have something to do with that?

Probably – subsidising stuff tends to produce more of it. That doesn’t

mean that social conservatism (mom stays at home) is not a more

effective way of boosting birth rates, but there need not be a direct

contradiction. Also, Sweden’s fertility was higher than the US rate as

late as 1992.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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