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Lee Ohanian on Sweden's Experiment with Socialism


Published August 6, 2020

Sweden provides a clear example of the dangers of socialism and the benefits of a free market. Sweden’s socialist experiment, starting in the 1960s, resulted in a major economic downturn. Its return to free-market principles in the 1990s helped its economy grow significantly.

This video’s audio track is excerpted from Lee Ohanian’s Hoover Fellow Talk “The Dangerous and Uniform Shift to Socialism.”

Additional Resources:

  • Listen to “The Dangerous and Uniform Shift to Socialism,” with Lee Ohanian. Available here.
  • Watch “What Democratic Socialism Does to Economic Prosperity” with Lee Ohanian, via PolicyEd. Available here.
  • Watch “Laboring in Vain: How Regulation Affects Unemployment” with Lee Ohanian, via PolicyEd. Available here.
View Transcript


In 1968 Sweden had the fourth best economy in the world. 

This was based on a very vigorous free market economy. 

In the 1960s when there was a lot of political unrest the Swedish people voted in socialist government. Socialism was couched within social issues, cultural issues, political issues, in addition to the economic issues. 

Ultimately, the Swedish economy fell from fourth in the world to fourteenth in the world very very quickly. 

Government administered seventy percent of the economy –Private sector job loss in Sweden was equivalent to what would happen here as if we had lost 27 million private sector jobs. 

Now by 1991, so about 23 years after Sweden started their socialist experiment Swedish people were entirely fed up and they voted in a reform government, and they continued to vote in reform governments. And since 1991 Sweden has grown faster, than any other western European economy.