‘Welfare system worth higher taxes’
September 5, 2010
A vast majority of Norwegians support paying even higher taxes than they already do, if it will preserve their country’s social welfare state. Fully 75 percent are willing to pay more tax for good health and elder care.
The figure emerged over the weekend from surveys compiled by research firm Synovate and reported by newspaper Dagsavisen. The surveys are part of an ongoing research project by Synovate called Norsk Monitor, and questioned 4,000 Norwegians in 2005, 2007 and 2009, immediately after national and local elections.
Only 14 percent of those questioned agreed with a statement that “it will be too expensive to maintain today’s level of welfare service in Norway, and individuals must in the future take greater responsibility to get the health and elder care they need.”
Another statement, that “it must be the public sector’s job to provide good health and elder care for all, even if it will mean that taxes and user fees must be raised in the years ahead,” gained support from 75 percent of respondents. The remainder were undecided.
The survey also showed that Norwegians’ support for their social welfare system has grown in recent years, and may help explain why the country’s current left-center coalition government won re-election last autumn. Even though it’s since lost support in public opinion polls, Norwegians still clearly want to maintain their social welfare system.
“There is a very strong embrace of the system at all levels of society,” researcher Ottar Hellevik, considered an expert on measuring Norwegian values, told Dagsavisen. “This survey shows that an overwhelming majority prefer public sector solutions to private services.”
Despite recent complaints over Norway’s tax system from shipowner John Fredriksen, a majority of wealthy Norwegians also claim they’re willing to pay higher taxes in order for all Norwegians to have good health and elder care. Their support comes despite full realization that in their case, they will “give more than they receive,” noted Hellevik.
“Even those with high household income, from NOK 800,000 and up, are clearly oriented toward fellowship,” he said. ”You’d think that you’d find more egoism among them, but we haven’t.”
It is, however, becoming more common for Norwegians to purchase extra services for health and especially elder care from the private sector and Hellevik thinks that will continue. The trend, though, “hasn’t led to less support for the welfare state,” he said.