Being More Like Sweden Might Not Be So Bad

Photo of Flag of Sweden: Ragnar Singsaas/WireImage/ Getty Images
Photo of Marco Rubio: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/ Getty Images.
At Thursday night’s Republican debate, Marco Rubio took the opportunity to criticize Democrat Bernie Sanders for his position of democratic socialism.

“Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president — of Sweden,” Rubio said. “We don’t want to be Sweden! We want to be the United States of America.”

What’s with the hate for the Scandinavians? Sweden does many things right. For one thing, they have a much better rate of gender equality than the United States. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap rankings, Sweden is number four in gender equality worldwide. The United States only ranks a measly 28.

Sweden has a high level of wage equality, a high rate of women in public office, and high levels of education for women. The Nordic country also has family-friendly social policies, and entitles parents to over one year of paid parental leave, with three months of that going to new fathers.

Even if Rubio totally dismissed the push for gender equality and the need for sustainable parental leave, Sweden also has effectively free health care for anyone up to the age of 20. (After that age, sick patients still only have to pay a small fee.) It’s a world of difference from the United States, where getting a doctor to check out your sore throat can cost hundreds of dollars if you don’t have insurance.

So, all things considered, Sweden doesn’t seem like such a bad model to emulate. Certainly Bernie Sanders doesn’t think so. In an interview with ABC’s This Week last year, Sanders listed the country as one to model after. “In those countries, by and large, government works for ordinary people in the middle class, rather than, as is the case right now in our country, for the billionaire class." Doesn't look like he's likely to take Rubio's comments as criticism.

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