If the public sector were as efficient as Ireland's or Britain's, for example, the expenditure could be reduced by a third for the same service. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions reports that
Swedish doctors see four patients a day on average,
down from nine in 1975. It is less than in any other OECD country, and less than half of the average. One reason is that a Swedish doctor spends between 50 and 80 percent of his time on administration.
Swedes are healthier than almost any other people in the world, but they are also out sick more often than any other people, according to available data. In 2004,
sickness benefits absorbed 16 percent of the government budget,
while health absenteeism has doubled since 1998. With a sickness benefit of up to 80 percent of a recipient's income (depending on his or her wage level), it is not surprising that there is an epidemic of absenteeism.
The system of high taxes and generous welfare benefits worked for so long because the tradition of self-reliance was so strong. But mentalities have a tendency of changing when incentives change. ....
... According to polls, about half of all Swedes now think it is acceptable to call in sick for reasons other than sickness. Almost half think that they can do it when someone in the family is not feeling well, and almost as many think that they can do it if there is too much to do at work. ....
A middle class with small economic margins is dependent on social security.
This was Bismarck's plan when he introduced a
system that would make those
dependent on it "far more content and far easier to handle."
......sclerosis creates a public demand for policies that create even more stagnation. This might help explain the lack of reform in Europe, despite all the political ambitions.
The more problems there are, the more dangerous radical reforms seem to the electorate: If things are this bad now, the logic goes, think how bad they'll be without state protection.
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