Scandinavia, the champions of Social Cohesion


Which factors can make a country a Shared Society? And what countries are the best examples? The Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Jacobs University in Bremen (Germany) have released a study that tries to answer this questions, based on a conception of social cohesion as the special quality of how members of a community live and work together. Their idea of a cohesive society is one with resilient social relationships, a positive emotional connectedness between its members and the community, and a pronounced focus on the common good.

According to this definition, Scandinavia is the champion of social cohesion.Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland have the highest levels, followed by Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. On the other hand, the countries studied that suffer low social cohesion are Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Greece and Romania. In a middle ground are most Western Europe countries, that feature above-average to average social cohesion: Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, the UK, France and Spain.

Anyway, the study examines only 34 countries: the whole European Union member states and seven OECD countries (Australia, Canda, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Switerzland and the US).

Going back on how it defines a Shared Society. It breaks down the concept of social cohesion into three domains: social relations, connectedness, and focus on the common good. From these domains, it compiles a list of measurable dimensions: social networks, trust in people, acceptance of diversity, identification, trust in institutions, perception of fairness, solidarity and helpfulness, respect for social rules, and civic participation.

From this idea, the report finds the three most important economic factors jn greater social cohesion: First, a good national wealth. Second, a balanced income gap: less equal societies tend to be less cohesive. And third, good development towards a modern information society: the diffusion of modern communication technologies makes a country more likely to be socially cohesive.

Photo: Ivelin Radkov/

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