What the Demise of Saab Says About the Swedish Welfare State

The distinction between the social security structure in the United States and Sweden gives uncanny insight into why Sweden has the option of saying "no" to Saab's urgent need for a bailout.

Saab, like almost all of the other automakers around the globe, has hit hard times, but unlike most of the governments around the world, Stockholm has refused to bail the car "born from jets" out, a move that could cause significant unemployment across southwest Sweden's industrial belt.

In a recent Times piece reporter and Big Think guest Sarah Lyall examines the impact that a collapse of Saab would have on the small industrial city of Trollhattan, where almost all residents are directly or indirectly effected by the fortunes of their local industry. Enterprise minister Maud Olofsson recently said “The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories,” in sharp contrast to the path that the United States has gone down with General Motors and Chrysler.

General Motors is the parent company of Saab's automobile division. But the Swedes should not anticipate any aid coming in from across the Atlantic. GM's decision to pull out of Saab completely by the end of the year pretty much assures that.

But the Saab case poses an interesting opportunity to contrast two governments. Former Swedish Finance Minister Leif Pagrotsky gave some insight into why the two countries have taken different approaches to bailing out companies when he spoke with Big Think. In describing the differences between US social security and unemployment benefits and those of Sweden, Pagrotsky makes the point that in Sweden, if your company goes bankrupt you can still rely on a steady stream of income to provide for food, medical bills, and old age, meaning the fear of unemployment is not that violent, the fear of change not that strong, the economy is more adaptable to economic shifts.

The 4 types of thinking talents: Analytic, procedural, relational and innovative

Understanding thinking talents in yourself and others can build strong teams and help avoid burnout.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to collaborate within a team and identify "thinking talent" surpluses – and shortages.
  • Angie McArthur teaches intelligent collaboration for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Do you have a self-actualized personality? Maslow revisited

Rediscovering the principles of self-actualisation might be just the tonic that the modern world is crying out for.

Personal Growth

Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest.

Keep reading Show less

Brazilian scientists produce mini-brains with eyes

Using a new process, a mini-brain develops retinal cells.

Surprising Science
  • Mini-brains, or "neural organoids," are at the cutting edge of medical research.
  • This is the first one that's started developing eyes.
  • Stem cells are key to the growing of organoids of various body parts.
Keep reading Show less

Believe in soulmates? You're more likely to 'ghost' romantic partners.

Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?

Thought Catalog via Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Ghosting, or cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is not nice.
  • Growth-oriented people (who think relationships are made, not born) do not appreciate it.
  • Destiny-oriented people (who believe in soulmates) are more likely to be okay with ghosting.
Keep reading Show less