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Welfare under fire in Scandinavia

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Welfare under fire in Scandinavia
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The Nordic countries, which have been long famed for their generous welfare states, are counting the cost and finding they can no longer afford such entitlements for their citizens.

Denmark’s finance minister is talking about modernisation to preserve it competitiveness with other countries.

Finland’s government has just announced a long-term plan to start scaling back its welfare system, one of the most generous in the world.

Sweden has slashed unemployment benefits and sick-leave compensation.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recently calculated what its members spend. France tops the list devoting 33 percent of its gross domestic product on welfare.

It is followed by Denmark (30.8 percent), Belgium (30.7 percent), Finland (30.5 percent) and Sweden (28.6 percent).

The average for all OECD countries is 21.9 percent.

Even as as economies are growing slowly or even declining, governments are having to deal with higher levels of unemployment and aging populations which will mean more spending on pensions and health care.

Seeing their current levels of spending as unsustainable some government are moving preemptively to make sure they keep their AAA credit ratings.

The OECD says countries have to make changes now to preserve their welfare societies for the future.