Every few weeks someone writes an article comparing some amazing statistic from the Nordic countries in Europe and then compares that statistic to the United States in total. It’s always some ridiculous apples and oranges comparison that results in a meaningless comparison.
So just as a reminder, the populations of these countries are:
- Sweden: 9.5 million
- Denmark: 5.6 million
- Finland: 5.4 million
- Norway: 5 million
In addition, demographically and culturally they are relatively homogenous.
By contrast, the United States has a population of 314 million.
Next time you see someone playing the stats game with a Nordic vs. USA make it a bit more relevant.
Let’s use a US state that is similar to Nordic countries like say Massachusetts: Population 6.7 million.
| ||Mass ||Sweden |
|Population ||6.7m ||9.5m |
|White ||84% ||~98% |
|Lifespan ||80.1 ||81.2 |
|GDP per capita ||$58,108 ||$57,297 |
|Incarceration rate per 100k ||218 ||67 |
|Dominant Religion ||Catholic 44% ||Evangelical Lutheran: 94% |
|Mean income per person ||$33,966 ||$21,1193 |
Now, I picked Massachusetts originally because it has some similar basic demographics (population and culture). Though, as you can see even here, while Massachusetts is relatively homogenous for a US state, it can’t touch Sweden.
None of this is meant to make one look better than the other. In fact, the chart above makes it clear that both have their own strengths. The point is that when someone tries to compare a homogenous nation state with a population of that of a smallish US state with the entire United States, put on your skeptics hat on.