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IFN researchers in Ekonomisk Debatt

2016-04-26


In the latest issue of Ekonomisk Debatt (published by Nationalekonomiska Föreningen; the Swedish Economic Association), Andreas Bergh, IFN, writes about three books by Roland Paulsen, all concerned with working life. In addition, Johanna Rickne, Stockholm University, and affiliated with IFN, is one of the authors of an article on "meritocratic government". Niclas Berggren, IFN and Editor of Ekonomisk Debatt, writes in an editorial piece about the global "elite" which is increasingly criticized for pursuing a policy that has provoked populism.

Andreas Bergh explains that there are obvious flaws in Roland Paulsen's writing. The books give an inadequate picture of society and its development, and it is "not substantiated by quantitative empiricism that describes how society at large has developed". Bergh concludes with the words: "Despite all the criticisms of Paulsen's texts, it is worth emphasizing that he basically has a completely correct and uncontroversial message:  As we all grow richer we want to have more leisure time. If this creates problems for the social systems we have built, it is primarily the systems that should change – not the individuals. "

Johanna Rickne and several researchers write in an article in Ekonomisk Debatt that Swedish politicians are more competent than the population in general. “At the same time, the class background of politicians is a close reflection of the structure of the population. We call this successful combination of meritocracy and social representation a meritocratic people's government."

The researchers explain that in the general population, upper classes have on average higher skills. But this does not apply to politicians. Politicians from lower social classes have the same average skills as those from higher classes. The researchers write that "the parties make an important effort to provide skilled individuals from different social classes to higher assignments." Another explanation, according to the researchers, might be that politician’s wages do not vary, while the pay differs a lot in the private labor market. "A poorly paid worker can therefore get a higher return on a political career than the outside politics-option, thus creating a wider range of politicians that initially had lower paying jobs. This sharpens the competition for political positions and improves the final recruitment.

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