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Look to Sweden when it comes to welfare reform

Published: Thursday, July 25 2013 1:42 p.m. MDT

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It’s no secret that as the baby boomers grow older, the financial strain on the nations various welfare programs will increase. Something will have to be done. But Congress' ability to work together to do something is questionable given the political climate in recent years. The Christian Science Monitor’s Harold Sirkin suggests we look at an unlikely place to find the key to solving the budget woes: Sweden.

“Twenty years ago, Sweden’s economy was on course for a financial train wreck. Sweden acknowledged the source of the problem — an aging population, a shrinking workforce, longer life spans, and a generous pension system that virtually everyone recognized as unsustainable. Then it did the unthinkable: Right and left made common cause to fix the problem.”

Sweden was forced to confront their aging population much early than the United States — its median age already 42 while the U.S. still manages 37. Sweden survived the crisis keeping intact a competitive economy that by some accounts has improved since the reform was undertaken, while still maintaining their generous social welfare net. Sweden represents a prime example of what politicians are capable off if they recognize the need to work together when facing a crisis.

Freeman Stevenson is a Snow College grad and is the DeseretNews.com opinion intern. Reach me at fstevenson@deseretdigital or @freemandesnews

Read more on Christian Science Monitor.

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