The Nordics and Crises

The Nordics and Crises

On this theme page, you can currently find material on the Nordics and covid-19 on as well as links to other, similar websites:

"Coughs and sneezes spread diseases."

By Carsten Henriksen (11th January, Danish School of Education)

The current high-handedness of Nordic and other governments in dictating what their populations should and should not do for health reasons can be traced back in history to at least the authoritarian medical police in France and Germany in the 18th century. Politicians the world over have, since then, been aware of the link between the health of the population and its usefulness in terms of procreating and working. Critics of the Danish Prime Minister and government's actions say they have introduced a new form of enlightened despotism. It has shocked a lot of people that political concern for the health of the Danish people trumps all other considerations and in Denmark the government has even taken steps that conflicted with the Danish Constitution.

Coronavirus measures are dividing Scandinavia. What is going on with the Swedish border?

By Therese Sefton, Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert (6th December 2020, University of Oslo, PRIO and

Freedom of movement between the Nordic countries has been an everyday part of life since the 1950s - but Covid-19 has challenged this. Read about a case study about people living near the border between Norway and Sweden where restrictions due to Covid has divided families and caused unemployment.

The Corona crisis has been a revelation for schools – but not a revolution.

By Eva Frydensberg Holm (10th December 2020, Danish School of Education)

An academic from Denmark highlights the fact that the Corona crisis is likely to result in increased opposition to testing and targets (at least in Denmark), whereas an academic from the US is perhaps unsurprisingly more sceptical about this. One thing they can agree on is that school is not just about academic learning, but it is also about teaching social values and learning to be part of a group, something which is lost with purely online tuition. Jesper Tække, a media researcher at Aarhus University, does however believe that Corona has given the education system a shock and points to the lack of IT skills displayed by many teachers during the current crisis.

Teaching Without Bodies.

By Mathilde Weirsøe (10th December 2020, Danish School of Education)

Associate Professor at Aarhus University Theresa Schilhab explains the challenges of teaching digitally, including that humour can be lost, the creeping uncertainty of whether students are 'really there' and the loss of important personal interactions.

Webinar: Explaining Swedish Exceptionalism on Covid-19: Nordic Perspectives

(28th Mary 2020, University of Oslo: Nordic)

This webinar was organised by 'Nordic Branding: Politics of Exceptionalism' at UiO:Nordic at the University of Oslo to discuss questions such as: Is the Swedish approach to Covid-19 exceptional? Can we explain the approach based on history or the political system? In this webinar we bring together scholars and scientists from the Nordic countries to try to explain the divergence. The panel was: Bo Rothstein, Professor, University of Gothenburg; Bo Lidegaard, Macro Advisory Partners-Europe, and former Editor in Chief of the Danish newspaper, Politiken; Johan Strang, Professor, University of Helsinki; and Kristin Sandvik, Professor, University of Oslo.

Nordic public debt: the dangers of restricting public spending due to the covid-19 crisis.

By Ilkka Kärrylä (11th May 2020,

Prevailing economic doctrine has it that, the lower the public debt, the more room there is for economic stimulation in downturns, such as the current covid-19 crisis. Denmark, Norway and Sweden with their comparatively low levels of public debt were able to announce relatively large economic crisis packages fairly quickly. Despite the pressure to keep public debt down, the Nordics would do well not to sacrifice important public spending.

The Nordic response to the Great Depression – an economic approach to the Corona crisis?

By Sami Outinen (16th April 2020,

A look back at how Sweden and Finland dealt with the depression in 1930s shows that it led to Keynesian interventionalism - with some key differences. The current corona crisis may provide an opportunity for political elites in the Nordics, as elsewhere, to choose similar paths to back then, namely, either a Keynesian-type of countermovement to free market capitalism, or inward-looking xenophobic nationalism.

Why do the Nordic countries react differently to the covid-19 crisis?

By Johan Strang (6th April 2020,

Given the striking similarity of the Nordic societies, it is interesting to note how differently some of them have reacted to the current covid-19 crisis. For example, Denmark and Norway were quick to implement a work and school lockdown and close their borders. In contrast, Sweden has raised international interest with a comparatively lax approach to enforcing social distancing by legal measures. Irrespective of which approach is ‘correct’, the diverse reactions have disclosed the different ways each country is run, particularly with respect to the relationship between government and administrative authorities, such as, health boards.

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