From childcare to healthcare, provision for the elderly to transparency of taxes, the Nordic countries are world leaders in organising society and it is no wonder Finland has been ranked among the happiest places in the world with an enviable worklife balance.
And so it was a major culture shock when journalist Anu Partanen moved from her Scandinavian home to America. She quickly realised that basic activities, from buying a mobile to filing taxes, were overly complicated compared to the Nordic way of life. As Partanen got to know her new neighbours, she discovered that they too shared her deep apprehensions, and she set out to understand why society in America (and much of the Western world) is organised in such a convoluted manner. Along the way, Partanen debunks the criticism that Nordic countries are socialist nanny states by focussing on four key relationships: between men and women, parents and children, employees and employers, and the government and its citizens. In so doing, she reveals that the Nordic approach allows people to enjoy more individual freedom and independence from the government while promoting a greater sense of well-being.
Filled with fascinating insights, advice and practical solutions, The Nordic Theory of Everything makes a convincing argument that we can rebuild society, rekindle optimism and become more autonomous people by following in the footsteps of our neighbours to the North.
Anu Partanen is a Finnish journalist and visiting reporter at Stanford University. She regularly features on the BBC World Service, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Fortune and Helsingin Sanomat. She has debated current affairs on the Finnish television show Pressiklubi.