Why Is Norway So Expensive? (Think Living Wages.)

On a recent visit to Norway, two friends from the University of Oslo on my first evening in Oslo took me out for a beer to talk about my visit–as in one beer each. The tab for the three beers: $57. Needless to say, I headed for a store the next day to check out retail prices. I noticed that they mostly sell beer individually, not per six-pack. It is because buying a six-pack would bankrupt you. The cheapest beer I could find, a mass-market Pilsner, was about $5 for one half-liter can–just over 16 ounces. Beer is very expensive because it is heavily taxed, as are all alcoholic beverages, as part of a strategy to curb alcoholism. My Norwegian friends assured me that the plan is not working.

But the bread at the store was expensive as well. As were restaurant food, train rides, hotel rooms, and books. And the list goes on. Most surprisingly, gasoline is expensive, too. Norway is the only oil-producing country with high gas prices. In fact, Norway has the highest gas prices in the world. Yet, the government through heavy taxation seeks to convince Norwegians to keep their cars at home and use public transportation instead. And it also subsidizes alternatives to fossil fuels, like this recharge station for electric_cars in central Oslo.


Battery recharge station for electric cars in central Oslo–in an oil-rich country. Nice parking job.

One interesting tool to compare price levels across countries is the Big Mac index which was developed by The Economist in 1986. Not surprisingly, the most expensive hamburgers in the world are sold in Norway where in July 2013 they cost 64.7% more than in the US. We might arrive at the conclusion that the Norwegian krone is overvalued. But if we use the index adjusted for GDP per person, the hamburger is only overvalued by 13.6%. So the exchange rate is a factor, but perhaps not the major one.


A Whopper will set you back a whopping $10. (That is without cheese.)

While the price of a hamburger is 64.7% higher, the GDP per person is a little more than double than that in the US. As the per-capita economic output is twice that of the United States, I assumed that some of this would trickle down in terms of personal income. So I asked the colleague who paid for the $57 beer tab why things are so expensive in his country. His response was, if you have a Norwegian paycheck this is not a problem. Not only are the wage levels very high, but disparities in income are much smaller than in the US. In other words, the person who sells you a hamburger or a beer in Oslo actually earns a living wage. High wages are prevalent and render the service industry expensive. But high wages are also common in  education and other areas of the public sector–not to speak of the energy sector.

It is no secret that the North Sea oil brought a lot of wealth into the country over the past 30 years. What is interesting is how this wealth has trickled down. It has lowered the unemployment rate to an enviable 3.4%–one of the lowest in the world. (There are downsides to this which I will explain in a future post.) At the same time, it has supported a notion of a livable wage that is deeply anchored in Norwegian society. This stands in stark contrast to the United States where the working poor not just include workers in the service industry but increasingly also school teachers and other workers in the public sector.

But in this small Scandinavian country that sees itself as a social laboratory, making sure that this new-found oil wealth benefits all Norwegians is a national priority. Norway is a consensus-driven, relatively egalitarian society with a high level of social cohesion. According to the OECD, wage inequality is low, and a very progressive system of taxation further helps to reduce income inequality. And there even appears to be a consensus that the few that fall between the cracks deserve support–which is not the sole responsibility of the government. I observed a young woman, perhaps 18, walk out of a 7-Eleven convenience store in central Oslo and hand a sandwich to a street person.


Homeless person in front of 7-Eleven in central Oslo, shortly after a young woman gave him a sandwich.

So if you will visit Norway as a tourist any time soon, you will surely complain about the exorbitant prices. But keep in mind that the money you pay in restaurants, hotels, and other parts of the tourist infrastructure will allow real people to have a real middle-class life. And Norway is a stunningly beautiful country, well worth a visit.

IMG_1067_Flåm (2)

View of the Aurlandsfjord from the town of Flåm. (Yes, this was the view from my hotel room.)

62 thoughts on “Why Is Norway So Expensive? (Think Living Wages.)

  1. Pingback: 24 Hours in Oslo | Trishna's Travel Adventures

  2. Max

    Great article. I love your colleague’s response that if you have a Norwegian paycheck [prices are] not a problem. I’ll have to remember that!

    1. Klampettsen

      Yes, in Norway you can earn twice as much, especially if you are unskilled. However, it costs between 2 to 3 times more to live in Norway. Do the maths.

      1. scarface

        Hate to say it. You are comparing apples to oranges. The population of New York City is about 10 million compared to the population of Norway …..lets say 5.5 million. One city v/s an entire country in size. Norway’s style of taxation will work till a certain size limit is reached. Then the tax load will be too great and the social problems will resurface. I’m going to be visiting Norway next year…from the USA. Redistributing the wealth is fine, but at what expense for the future. Hope their cash cow continues to survive.

      2. Andreas Parashos

        After tax net pay slips:

        Unskilled worker: 3.000 USD/month
        Engineer: 4.200 USD/ month
        CEO in a midsize company: 10.000 USD/ month

        I don’t consider above to be 2X or 3X to US salaries. It is rather 0.8X to 0.3X of US salaries.
        All the Norwegian welfare is result of propaganda and paid publications from the socialistic government. Note that Norway is heavily subsidizing global non profit organization.
        In fact average Norwegian can not afford to go out to restaurants, pay somebody to paint his house or have a haircut to the hairdresser. They do everything by themselves because they cannot afford to buy services.

        1. CROM

          I agree to what Andreas is saying. There’s no free meal in those countries, you pay and you pay dearly for certain services and capital allocation from the government, even from well-managed states, is becoming a societal burden in the long run.

    2. Nicola

      We came to Norway as tourists ane we also found prices here incredibly high as compared for example to the UK, a well-known welfare state, with high taxation, but an even higher socio-economical disequality.
      I can understand the logic behind a government-led redistribution of wealth, but in the end I think this system works mainly as a rather annoying form of economic protectionism: Norway gains a lot from tourism, and charges tourists who pay on their paychecks not the norwegian ones a lot of extra money “for the benefit of norwegian society across the board” . Tourism is intended to benefit the local industry: but this is extorsion. However beautiful Norway may be, and beautiful it is, there are many other places as beautiful and more. I am yet to see that the extra 50-60% I paid extra here is justified by a product which is 50-60% superior to the one offered by any other country in Europe, for example. And like everywhere else, you should pay for what you get.
      No, equalitarian redstribution of wealth at the expense of foreigners is simply protectionism in an elegant package.

      1. Munir

        Well said. I agree 100%.
        My son is going to study there (in Bergen, NHH) from January, 2017 under exchange program from Canada, so I was just doing little more research. I knew Norway is expensive but didn’t know so expensive.

      2. Rodrigo Conte

        Agree 100%, I am visiting Norway now and do not plan to come back. Prices are ludicrous.

    3. Mick

      Norwegian pay check? Min wage in norway is about £30k this still makes it too expensive to live if you ask round I was contracting out there recently and ended my contract based on the rediculous prices for food. A normal meal say burger and chips with a drink from a poxi cafe £19 from a ok ish restaurant £50 … and so on even buying your food from a local shop it’s anything from 3 times to 10 times as expensive as back in the uk. I was on a good rate but taking in to account these prices I was no better off than working back in the uk except I was isolated away from my family loosing days travelling and putting up with airports, delays…. just wouldn’t bother with the place again, as the oil runs out the country will slip from the black in to he red as they have no other discernible commodity.

  3. GARY

    Sorry, I disagree with your friend. Why? First forget all the bullshit statistics most of which are put out by leftist. Norway is expensive because they have an enormous, unproductive welfare state and to fund the welfare state and huge government everything is taxed heavily. Here is a critical thinking way to look at the problem.

    If a Norwegian fisherman catches 10 fish, he is richer then an American fisherman who catches 8. Hence productivity is tied to wealth. Period. But if the government taxes 7 fish away in Norway and the American fisherman is taxed 2 fish in the USA. You have the odd situation of a Norwegian having half the standard of living of an American which is almost exactly the situation. Norwegians go on shopping sprees in the USA not because of exchange rates but because the products are taxed much less which makes them seem cheap. Look at gas which should be dirt cheap in Norway but is taxed to the max.

    Remember when you take money from your most productive people as does Norway and redistribute it to poor people. Yes poor people are richer but only because the rich and middle class are poorer. Norway is basically eating it’s future capital which can not be seen since many sins are buried by oil.

    best regards

    1. Lander

      I disagree with you. The aim of the governments must be to redistribute the wealth so every person can have a decent living in the state. No one should be poor (as Human Rights claim). The center is the people, not the production. If you think that production is more important and the employer should receive a much higher wage, I let you know that the workers create the wealth in an enterprise, not the employer.

      My best regards

      1. Ragnar Danneskjold

        Spoken like a true slave and a thief: a brainwashed Marxist. How has that worked out in human history (you aren’t educated enough to know, are you)? Come and take mine, if you dare. You won’t dare, because leftists are bed-wetting cowards . . . slaves. I am a free-born man, responsible for myself and my own . . . not for you lazy and drug-addicted and self-absorbed, sanctimonious human refuse who refuse to work and be responsible for your own. I, and legion like me, are well armed, as God intended. Good luck, girl-man. My best regards.

        1. Bjorn Gustavsson

          Hahahaha – wow dude.. I think you need to lay off the World of Warcraft.

          Or crack…

          Also Norway does not spend their oil investment, it is reinvested, all over the world. It only uses a % of the surplus and is thus practicably inexhaustible.

          In Norway everything you want is expensive, but everything you truly need is cheap.. I like it this way. 🙂

          1. CROM

            The more the central planning of an economy the more authoritarian it finally becomes. Hayek portrayed that brilliantly (in theory – and following historical progression) in his :The Road to Serfdom”.

            You live a short life to be able to evaluate the whole impact of central planning (even though the Scandinavians rank among the top 30 in free market economies). There’s no free meal and the time will come that countries that freeride on American technology will have to produce a lot more to keep paying for those products.

            First it’ll come from sovereign debt and unfullfilled social security promises (like the Norwegian pension fund – the biggest/richest in the world, funded by their North Sea oil) that will find it difficult to invest around the world to fulfill their promises.

            Past investment returns, with which these systems are fulfilling their responsibilities/promises to insured citizens, in addition to higher life expectancy – far higher that when those systems were designed – are creating an impasse.

            You can’t find those past returns and you have to risk more and more to even get close to covering your responsibilities.

            That’s not going to work and perhaps this COVID19 pandemic is a chance for governments to implement a UBI scheme (Universal Basic Income) so as to attempt to rise inflation and subsequently destroy sovereign debt along with it.

            It’s going to get bumpy!

        2. Canadianbrah

          Quite the opposite more people earning decent “non poverty ” level living wages = more people paying taxes.. which equates to even a richer country..
          U shitbag Americans seem to borrow endless money for wars and military spending but when it’s time to provide human rights, medical assistance and decent living wages ..u cry..”where the fk we gonna get the money from” gtfo

          1. CROM

            WOW! “Shitbag” Americans eeeh? It’s because them “shitbag” Americans that you have a device to communicate your shortsighted opinion here, the very internet you use, gps, even your household electricity!

            If it wasn’t for the US and its technology, welfare Snandinavia would still be still in the age of caves.

            In essence the Scandinavian system freerides on US technology (essentially the whole free world does).

            Imagine hospitals without medical devices, plastic, MRIs, X-rays, and everything else the Americans and capitalism brought to this world.

            You, my friend need to disillusion yourself from whatever negative notion you have for the US of A.

            FYI, Scandinavians have a better standard of living in the US than the Scandinavian countries themselves (just as Asians have in relation to Asia). I am not even an American. I live in the EU and not very happy about it.

      2. johh

        sorry that logic only work if you produce a high level of productive society and do not bring in all of africa or the worlds poor to support the worlds poor are 3 billion ppl the tiny country of norway will be broke before they thank you, Maybe help them try to develop high producing nation as well

        1. Utopia is just a dream

          I did not understand a word that you’re saying bro. But basically, it’s impossible for everyone to be well off because of the concept of scarcity,unless we have new technology that’s shared an enable us to recreate more tangible goods with the existing resources we have now with some groundbreaking discovery, Redistribution is possible, but you’re just desensitizing the innovative to work with no incentives.

          1. Bon

            Concept of scarcity? Production is at all time highs, it’s not about scarcity, it’s about distributing income so as to not generate massive inequality.
            Furthermore, when you provide safety people can actually turn to creating and developing their ideas instead of worrying that they are going to end up homeless if their idea doesn’t work out.
            And obviously there are still incentives, people still earn more in some jobs than others, people can still own businesses and even become billionaires. In fact norway has more billionaires per capita than the united states.

      3. Henry

        No one should be poor, I agree. But if someone is given the freedom to live his life the way he pleases, why should the government take money from people who make smart life choices to help the ones who made poor life choices?

        1. JP

          Poor life choices? Not necessarily. Nearly all these people are employed, and the vast majority of jobs are necessary (and those that aren’t necessary are often well payed). So you’re just pushing poverty onto people who are doing their share. That isn’t right.

    2. FZ

      Your example with fish completely ignore how most people get money, through a slary, through a position in a corporate hierarchy.

      What is this false assumption that richer people are more productive? Why do we still believe we live in a meritocracy? Its been proven time and time again, that the most productive jobs are usually the jobs with lower end salaries, usually public sector and its employees usually lower to middle class. By making the middle and upper classes ‘poorer’, you guarantee most people who contribute to national productivity get their fair share. On top of this, from a basic understanding of consumption, the more people that can afford things, the more things they’ll buy. You think rich people buy multiple fridges for each room in their house, no. The market benefits from more wealthier consumers, which in turn guarantees more profits, which I believe is the goal of capitalism?

      Sure, everything’s expensive. But to say Norwegian can’t afford anything is ridiculous, there’s a high quality of life. And the reason Norwegians probably spend like nutters in America is America has SO MUCH STUFF and the overabundance reduces cost. If America was a socialist hellscape or whatever, food would still be the cheapest in the world.

    3. David Thompson

      It’s true that Norweigans have less disposable income because of high taxes. But you forgot to include the many benefits to Norwegians from the heavy taxes. Excellent free medical care, free or cheap recreational facilities, and many more. They rank higher than Americans on scales of “happiness,” and on international scales of social development. They have better health.

      In the US, the high infant mortality, and now the decreasing life expectancy, is our form of “eating our future capital.”

  4. GARY

    Oh forgot to mention living wages. There is no such thing. There are market wages and nothing else on earth exists. So if the government decides that a living wage is $25/hour, the government can not force people to pay $25/hour.

    If you get paid $3/day and each day you buy 1 pack of gum, 1 pizza and 1 ice cream for a $1 each. One day the cost of each rises to a $1.50 for each because of living wages.

    You must decide to buy or not to buy?
    You can decide that they are all expensive and not buy any of them. You can refuse to lower your standard of living. Or if you buy, then you must decide who gets laid off because you can now only afford two items.

    If you buy ice cream and gum, then the ice cream man and the gum man have a better life at the expense of poor pizza man and of course now you have a lower standard of living too.

    Wealth is tied to productivity, you just can’t declare someone to have a higher standard living. Without productivity, then wealth is fixed hence if one man gets more, then another man gets less.

    hope that made sense

  5. Peter Hess Post author


    Sorry for my tardy reply–travel and work have taken over, and I have not spent much time with my blog.

    I cannot argue with the basic fact that goods and services are taxed at a higher rate in Norway than in the US, for instance. But I would argue that Norwegians actually get services out of this which are very valuable to them. Having a society where fewer people fall into poverty is a good, it is a shared value across the political spectrum in Norway.

    Yet, I disagree with your assessment of Norway as an “unproductive welfare state.” There is little unemployment, the “unproductive” segment of society is not outsized, and I see nothing wrong with a society to take care of its old and sick.

    The “living wage” is an established term and part of the economic discussion. You claim that there are “market wages and nothing else on earth exists.” I quite disagree. Even in the US, the wage structure is very distorted by a number of interventions, from workplace safety rules, environmental regulations, minimum wage laws (most industrialized countries, like the US, have them), basic labor standards, etc. So “market wages” are as much fiction than “living wages,” if not more so. The term “living wage” just simply assesses what salary level a worker needs to need basic needs. I understand that “basic needs” are subject to interpretation. In Texas, where I live, having a car to get work is a basic need. In Oslo, it is not because there actually is a good public transportation system. But in Norway, a higher percentage percentage of workers actually can meet their basic needs with what they earn than in the US. In my book, that is a good thing.

    I will concede the point that this calculation is distorted. Lower-class people have affordable access to health care–which is mostly paid out tax money. At the same time, many Americans just simply go bankrupt when they have major health issues and often lose everything they have. (I hope that Obamacare will fix this problem.) I believe that affordable access to quality health care is a basic human right. The price to pay is higher taxation, particularly in higher income brackets. You may call that income redistribution. But decisions on how assets are divided in a society are always political–the market in that sense is a fiction. Deciding on the role of government in society is political. Deciding who pays for what is political. Just look at the US where taxation for investors and high wage earners has dropped dramatically since the Reagan Administration. That is income redistribution, too. It is a political decision to let wealthy Americans have a larger share of the pie at the expense of the middle class–which actually has declined over the past 30 years. This has nothing to do with markets and everything to do with politics.

    Norwegians have chosen a more equitable model of income distribution in their society. In the US, we are going the other way. You may like the latter path, but it has little to do with markets.


    1. johh


      Again you are incorrect the immigration to norway at 10 % is 500k ppl mostly on welfare, it would be
      what happenes to the us when all the illegals about 30 mm go on welfare, the cost would be probably 1 -2 trillion dollars and the us goes broke , the illegal don’t say thank you and go back to their countries with your money
      Socialism fails if it thinks one group should take care of all other, u run out of money

    2. Joseph

      “Larger share of the pie at the expense of the middle-class”?

      Uh..no. That’s based on the assumption that wealth is a zero-sum game, which it isn’t.

      What do you suppose the productivity of the US would be if the total amount of capital today was what it was 100 years ago? The “pie” as you word it is not constant. Your well-being can grow even when your share of the pie falls if the pie is getting sufficiently larger.

      Wealth is created by, and morally belongs to the individual creator. Man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.

      Let’s break that down a little. Suppose Lil’ El is tired of trying to scoop up fish with his hands and figures out how to turn a tree branch into a spear, increasing his daily catch tenfold. Big Jay, who never thought to make a spear, properly complain that Lil’ El has received an “unfair distribution” of fish?

      Whatever the complications and intricacies involved, the basic issue is the same whether we’re talking about a remote island or a complex division of labor economy like America’s: a man uses his mind and his existing property (i.e., previously created wealth) to bring new wealth into existence. He doesn’t gobble down an already-baked pie — he produces.

      Richard Branson, for instance, got his start selling record albums out of the back of his car. The albums? They were his property. The money he made by selling them? His property. Branson used that money to implement his ideas for making records cheaper, phones more user-friendly, air travel less annoying. He didn’t grab a bigger piece of some socially produced pie any more than Lil’ El did: he brought new wealth into existence. The fact that he worked with other people to create his products doesn’t change the essential issue: each Virgin employee brought wealth into existence as an individual — and was paid accordingly.

      1. Olivia

        your analogy is far too oversimplified. Jay can’t rationally complain about an unfair distribution if he has access to the same river, if there are plenty of fish to spare, and if he has access to the same spear making components. At that point it’s up to him to make his own spear and get his own fish. At that point it would be wrong to demand that Ed give Jay any of his spear-fished fish. But what if the river only has 10 fish total? what if Jay is disabled or sick, or has a sick family member? What if Ed goes around getting all the spear-making components and hoards them and either makes people work for him at a low rate or sells the components for an exorbitant rate? What if, because Ed is now so good at catching fish, he bribes the head honcho of the community to give him special favors, or to make it harder for Jay to get his own fish his own way? The pie doesn’t always get bigger, and even if it does, there’s no guarantee that the top tier of elites don’t start taking even more.

      2. Fergle

        hahaha, Richard Branson built his wealth using VAT fraud, for which he barely avoided jail.

    3. Gary

      Sorry there are no exceptions to the laws of economics.
      1. You say Norwegians get values from services provided by the government. First, not all Norwegians may want the government service, so it has no value to them. Second, you make the assumption that a government service can not be provided by the market.
      2. The market wage is the market wage even if the government adds laws to make the market wage more expensive. It means you will have less demand for labor as labor cost rise.
      3. Referring to Living wage: In a free market you get paid for value, not need.
      4. Let’s not delude ourselves with the word “affordable” which means we are going to take the property of some citizens and give to others. In my mind, that is a bad thing.
      5. Wealthy citizens are wealthy because they traded in a free market. Steve Jobs sells me an Apple computer and I give him a $1000. How does that undermine a middle class citizen? It doesn’t, in fact, it enriches both of us.
      6. Norway has chosen to steal a large percentage of wealth from it citizens to distribute to people who did not earn it. Notice that without prisons and fines, you could not implement this Norwegian consensus. This has nothing to with America but with the morality of Norway.

  6. Shawn

    Thank you for this article.

    Having lived in Scandinavia, I find the model so much more equitable for society. I understand that equality is anathema for many folks fixated on the American dream, and the need to be better than someone else. Pulling everyone up rather than pushing some down, improves life from everyone.

    With that theory in mind, what are the crime stats in Norway? I feel instinctively that there would be very little need for criminal activity with basic needs met. Do you know?

    1. Gary

      1. Equitable – you mean where the government takes the income of one citizen and gives it to another citizen who didn’t earn it. Is this your definition of equitable?
      2. “Being better than someone else” is definitely part of the American dream, we call it “achievement and excellence” vs. laziness or incompetency.
      3. Basic needs being met has nothing to do with crime. The US has higher crime than Norway and spends more per capita on poor people then Norway. No one is starving in the USA or Norway.
      4. No one pulls you up or pushes you down. You have full power of your own decisions to direct your own life to achieve your own dream. BTW that is the essence of the American dream

      1. Tom

        3. dude, there are plenty of people starving in the USA. I lived i portland, oregon and they had lots people dying of starvation, lack of shelter and access to affordable health care everyday.
        Why do you think crime is not linked with supplying basic needs? not only is everything linked in some way even beyond pop stats, but you wouldnt steal bread if you had bread. if people weren’t flashing their money around in front of you in the form of assets and nice to haves then people wouldn’t feel as inadequate either and want to steal to feel that short term happiness.
        4. not everyone is born middle class with a good strong drive, physical and mental ability. not every one has the power to direct their own life for so many reasons including race, class, inflation, influence, debt …. etc etc

        I think the american dream is a concept made by the ones that reap the reward of public spending. I think Shawn is mostly correct about what she says and Survival of the Fittest doesn’t have to be so brutal and based on wealth, assets, ability etc. Yes, some people rise above from poor to billionaires based on ideas and grit etc, but if they weren’t poor in the first place they wouldn’t be the 75% of the USA that didn’t make it. Be humble.

        1. Diane flock

          I doubt this is true! I worked in social services for 35 years and no one died of starvation!
          Churches have soup kitchens and pantry’s have food for the needy!
          There is Medicaid for those that can’t afford health care and food stamps for 55 million people who need it!
          So I say get your facts straight!

  7. Barry

    We were just over there this May and it is expensive but…the country is beautiful, the people were friendly, helpful, happy (as far as I could tell) and I didn’t hear of anyone getting shot or murdered while I was there.

  8. Matt

    Wow Oslo is crazy expensive. I lived in Germany and they have a somewhat similar system. I made way less in Germany than I do here in Philadelphia but when I got sick or had to go to the Krankenhaus I never had to worry about the bill. I love the USA but I was happier in Germany and isn’t that all that matters at the end of the day?

  9. Pingback: Norwegian Travel destiantions, art and culture

  10. Ron

    Unemployment is low because many people simply giving up looking for a job and live under generous benefit instead. Jobs are hard to find because of the price control on wage.

    1. forinfan

      Gary or Ron, have you lived in these countries for a while? If not, I think you are probably debating a theory. All well and good, but most folks in these countries who want to be like Americans, can easily move to America. No need to ruin the rest of their country to fit a libertarian ideal that serves the interests of the few.

      1. Gary

        Freedom and justice are not theories, they are principles that the Western world was founded on and why the West has properred. I am American and the USA like Norway is taking the destructive road of socialism. I am equally as harsh on the USA.

        I am concerned when people think that socialism works in Norway or Sweden when in fact it does not. Norway and American can afford all this socialism since both nations have a free market and high productivity. But make no mistake, a nation can not go on forever with a ever increasing welfare state and government. There is only one law of economics. Not one for the US and one for Norway. Neither Norway nor the US can sustain the path we are on toward socialism. Asia will make sure of that.

        1. Larry

          So what is your answer to healthcare? Should it continue to be tied to employment with all of the problems
          we have seen? Are you okay with some of your family members dropping dead if they can’t afford medication and care?

  11. Jacob

    Thank you for a great article!
    By the way, unemployment in Norway is not only lower than the United States, but the labor force participation rate is about 8% higher.
    Not to mention that compared to the US, the per capita GDP in Norway is higher, the Human Development Index is higher, and the GINI coefficient (a measure of inequality) is lower.

  12. Karl

    I’m visiting my girlfriend here in Norway. We ordered pizza tonight for delivery. Got a 16″ pie, a small salad and a 1.5 L bottle of sprite. Guess how much that was? $70 dollars. She tells me that people can only afford to eat out here once a month. I can understand that because we went for sushi last night. The bill was 750 kronor or about $92. We got three sushi rolls, edamame, some fried whale nuggets, salmon filets, and she had a glass of wine while I drank water.

    As far as I’m concerned, the Norwegians can keep their “happy” society. This place is way overpriced and way over taxed.

    1. Linda

      You have the most accurate, real and helpful comment in this whole discussion, regardless of ones feeling about socialism. My friends in Norway almost never go to a pub, a sports bar, a restaurant, or a movie. They even have birthday parties and celebrate special occasions at someone’s home. They buy cheap beer ..the stores close at 3 on Saturday..nothing on Sunday… no such thing as a pharmacy open late, god forbid a drive through one ..Many of th Norwegians I know have no, what we would call modern conveniences .. things even many poorer Americans take for granted and have been standard since the 1960’s.. things like clothes dryers, garbage disposals, self cleaning ovens, frost free refrigerators, central heat and air. They drive old cars that get great gas mileage and can’t afford a new ones.
      One thing besides health care they do get are an incredible amount of paid vacation days a year. But of course they can’t really afford a nice meal or hotel anyway. They go to their cabin with no electricity and do improvement projects. Now these are the people I know, and I’m not saying this is everyone’s experience.
      I have been to Norway. It’s a wonderful country…beautiful, clean, organized, friendly great people. They seem content with their lot. Hey they are happiest country in the world, right ?

  13. Chris Bellis

    Plenty of countries in Europe have an equally good system of health care and low unemployment figures but a much cheaper cost of living. Denmark, UK, Finland, Germany for instance. I am from the UK and notice that prices in Norway are two to three times as high. As for the scenery, great but no better than Scotland, and Scotland at least has some daylight in the winter.The nanny states of Norway and Iceland, where you have to get cigarettes and alcohol from special shops open short hours and at great cost…matter of debate, but it encourages a very immature approach to alcohol, binge drinking etc. Plus the notion of an undivided society is a dream. I saw two policemen rough handling (to the point of actually beating her up) a homeless woman, probably mentally disturbed, in Oslo. In addition, racism is common in Norway. And remind me, what nationality was Anders Breivik?

  14. Nikolai

    Chris Bellis.

    I’d like to start off stating that you do not have to get neither beer nor cigarettes from special shops here in Norway. For other liquors, you have special stores. I’m not sure why you think this encourages “binge-drinking” – it really doesn’t. Immature approach to drinking? No, if not the opposite. The prices in these stores are state-regulated. Prices are high, but alcohol in general isn’t healthy, so why should it be cheap and available at any time? We do tax things we know is bad for society – that explains the high oil prices too.

    Our police is extremely good, and statistics support me to the point where I think you’re exaggerating (a lot) when it comes to the instance with the woman. They would never beat someone up, and if they did, they would be stopped by some bypassers, and they’d immediately go to jail.

    Yes, racism is common in Norway, there’s no denying that. However, it’s very immature of you to bring up Breivik as a subject. He’s a psychopath and he NOT a representitive, typical Norwegian. I’d love to list up terrible people with an UK ethnicity, however I’m not that childish, and the fact that the UK has 60% higher crime rates than Norway speaks for itself.

    Anymore misconceptions of Norway you’d like me to debunk? I’d love to properly educate you, because that’s clearly something you haven’t had enough of. Oh, and for the sake of respect, do not mention names like Breivik again. It’s silly, irrelevant, makes you look like a uneducated, utter idiot.

    Best regards.

    1. Tomas Gregor

      Dear Nikolai, as Mr. Danneskjold had replied to someone else before: spoken like a brainwashed Marxist.

      1. Blaz

        Jeez, you really have missed the point of life haven’t you. You judge the success of an economic system by the general happiness of its people. Wealth is a factor, but it useless in itself, and inequity creates division.

    2. Radovan Skriba

      Crime rate is low just because most of you are scared from childhood to say a word. It’s a silent agony only what works well is spying on each other and grassing up each other. Just be honest with yourself. What’s bad for you is not need to be told by government but your parents should do that but if previous generations where alcoholics than even prohibition is only a waste of time.

  15. Manny

    The big fast food franchises of America will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to lobby against a liveable minimum wage. Dollar value menu, or die.

  16. Sheena Sisk

    The reason nordic regions have a greater distribution of wealth (and therefore higher wages for workers, though nordic profit is lower than US profits) is because of:

    1. militant working class uprising during the inter-years war period where workers came together against the capitalist class and demanded (and won!) greater compensation and social structures (such as national health care) and…

    2. the continued strength and existence of workers unions. For example, there is no “minimum wage” here. Instead, our wages are negotiated by the unions. However, our parliament has since been taken over my a conservative anti-worker party who is constantly trying (and succeeding) to take away these wins and our wages are now declining while are rent goes up and up.

    The formula is very easy. If you want more distribution of wealth you must take it from whose who hoard it. It has nothing to do with a nation’s “values.” In fact, the current parliament’s values are quite the opposite right now.

    Another reason beer/alcohol is so expensive here is because there is a monopoly of the production and selling of alcohol here. Also, also, there are only a handful of capitalist here who own a majority of the commercial real-estate here making it high prices necessary to pay the monopolized rent.

    1. Radovan Skriba

      You are a lunatic pal! This is not a social state this is some sort of modern fascist ideology. This country will be forgotten again covered with snow after your oil will end and you will eat away and drink away even your Fund.

  17. Pete

    Thank you for your article. Interesting to see how people, who probably has not lived in the subject Scandic countries go on and on about it. That’s the way these countries run and they are not falling apart.

    As far as the US, people may have more opportunities and possibly earn good money and if what Gary says is true about how US spends more on welfare etc, have you looked at skid row? It really amazed me how the European countries are like. Just the public transit systems beat the US cities. Look at LA, taking the trams / trains 50-60 years ago and now putting them back up, sorry but we are 50-60 years behind. Plus they are pushing this quickly now mainly because of the Olympics.

    Not sure how that transportation system of LA can handle all that visitors.

  18. Mark

    I’ve never worked so hard and been paid so little. Norway does not have high wages It’s all a bunch of BS. Moving here was a big mistake. A waste of time and money. I’m moving back home as soon as I can

  19. Radovan Skriba

    Norway is a country where smile is coming to sleep and it seems like the whole country is shaking off some big hangover. People are rude, no smile, no fun. Overripe fruits costs too much, people in public service can’t even say hello or acknowledge someone’s presence. Infrastructure crap no competition, no experience in online retail, poor insurance market, slow traffic and most of all over last decade the Norwegian currency lost it value by 20% everyone from Europe running back home from here screaming never again and Norwegians acts like the sun would rise from their arses. Poor undeveloped country with high meaning about their own country.

  20. Radovan Skriba

    In souvenir shop in Stryn in the same shop you could by trainers for half price offer if you are Norwegian but this offer doesn’t work with foreigners. How this could be ethical or fair towards tourists? Next step would be two prices in grocery shops? 20krones bread for beautiful Norwegian people and 40krone for dirty foreigners. How about that and the great social system? Word social is related to humans and humans are all mankind I would say. But Norwegians are maybe more in social value than very welcomed tourists-scapegoats. Unbelievable

  21. Rad

    Bananas in UK 70p/kg in Norway 300p/kg. I would say that the purchase price in banana country is the same. Now in UK my income was 1100£ and in Norway for same work it is 2000£. What on earth do you people mean by rich country. Rich man in rich country is someone who has money but pays little money for things. How could those bananas stay cheap in UK and became mega expensive in Norway is a mistery for me. Roads narrow and dangerous,online retail worst than in East Europe, insurance products very limited, banks opened from 10-2, shops opened only during the day time, buying alcohol is a logistical challenge because you need to drive to the nearest town but only during opening hours similar to bank opening hours.
    Taxation is one thing but the real buying power is low and to be able to afford same lifestyle like in UK with 3000£ the Norwegian should earn about 10000£ and thats not happening very often and Im pretty sure that your friends in Oslo are not even in sight of that amount. Someone started to say that Norwegians are rich and they started to believe in this and lately they started to persuade also the rest of the world with this nonsense. Their fund is loaded with oil money but Norwegians are poor. I live hear I can see it daily. Luckily only for 3 months and it is only 4 weeks left. Never again.

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