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«Abstract This paper reviews Finland’s growth strategy in the postwar decades. Finland was able to initiate an impressive mobilization of resources ...»

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Furthermore, Finland’s success story may have been due to rather favourable but transitory circumstances. The crucial phase of state-led economic growth and the buildup of welfare services coincided with favourable demographics, so that reforms created more winners than losers. Once the demographic structure becomes less advantageous, it is less certain that there will be such a happy congruence between the demands of the market economy and the political aspirations of voters. For example, an increasing share of welfare expenditure in the future will be directed to pensions and health care for the elderly, and the implied higher tax rate may not be as easily accommodated with a need to uphold incentives for labour market participation and a high supply of working hours.

However, with respect to the third question (whether there are indirect lessons for policymakers of other countries), the answer is positive. Finland’s example offers a general message of hope for many countries affected by conflicts and poverty. Consider Finland’s history up to the Second World War: a small, backward country colonized by more powerful neighbours, torn by a violent civil war just as independence was within reach, and subsequently limited in its political manoeuvring room by the geopolitically challenging cold war environment. Yet, it was possible for the Finnish decisionmakers—the government as well as various corporatist organizations—to forge a political compromise that was deemed politically legitimate and exploited the global economy to undertake a rapid economic transformation. This could be the positive message for any aspiring, less developed country in which initial conditions seem uninspiring.


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