On Swedish billionaires

I have written a guest-post on Reihan Salam invaluable blog “The Agenda” on National Review. The Agenda is in my opinion currently the best wonk-blog on the right side of the blogosphere, focusing on evidence based public policy.

My post is about dollar Billionaires, as measured annually by Forbes Magazine. Matthew Yglesias recently pointed out that Sweden now has more dollar billionaires per capita than the United States. Yglesias interprets this as evidence that the welfare state does not necessarily prevent wealth creation. I instead argue that most of Sweden’s billionaires are rich based on pre-welfare-state wealth. Entrepreneurship stagnated during the welfare state period itself:

“Yglesias mentions three Swedish companies: H&M, Ikea, and Tetra Pak. These firms were founded in 1943, 1947 and 1951 respectively, before the mature Swedish welfare state emerged.

There are more sides to Swedes than the egalitarian Social Democrats that have become so familiar. Swedes also have an often forgotten history as industrious Lutheran burghers. From the late 19th century up until the welfare state, the country was an entrepreneurial powerhouse. With the exception of Switzerland, no other country created as many multinational companies per capita as Sweden. Both sides of the Swedish national character have to be taken into account to fully understand its economic history.”

Read the whole think.