Revisiting Sweden’s response to the Great Depression of the 1930s: economic policy in a regional context
This intra-Scandinavian comparison provides a corrective to existing comparative literature on Sweden's response to the Great Depression at three levels: policy conception, case selection and mode of explanation. The paper's holistic view of economic policy shows that the Swedish response was not just about fiscal policy. A broadly defined Swedish response becomes even less distinctive when compared with its Danish and Norwegian counterparts. The paper makes three points to explain the intra-Scandinavian variation (convergence and divergence). First, the regional-metropolitan context matters. Facing similar international challenges, the three small states developed a defensive reflex by striking domestic compromises, abandoning the gold standard, devaluing their currencies and effecting monetary expansion. Second, the political-economic development experience matters. On one hand, proportional representation entrenched Scandinavian farmers as a critical political force, thus ensuring agricultural protectionism across the region. On the other hand, the cross-national divergence in industrialisation largely shaped industrial policy: Sweden’s relative trade and domestic liberalism sharply contrasted with Denmark’s exchange controls and Norway’s import substitution. Third, ideology matters. Whereas the Danish Social Democrats’ traditional liberalism and their Norwegian counterparts’ radicalism buttressed fiscal orthodoxy, the Swedish Social Democrats’ ideational and programmatic renewal paved the way for the fiscal experiment of the crisis years.
|Keywords||Economic policy, Great Depression of the 1930s, international economic crises, Scandinavian responses, small states|
|Journal||Scandinavian Economic History Review|
Türegün, A. (2017). Revisiting Sweden’s response to the Great Depression of the 1930s: economic policy in a regional context. Scandinavian Economic History Review, 1–22. doi:10.1080/03585522.2017.1286258