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How to Explain the Swedish Riots

The standard answers of the left are wrong.

Jun 10, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 37 • By PAULINA NEUDING
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Today, 60 percent of those living on welfare in Sweden are immigrants. Incidentally, the same week the riots began, the Swedish parliament voted to allow illegal immigrants the right to government-funded health care. In this and other ways, Sweden has shown its minorities a generosity that is probably unparalleled in the world.

It’s true that in recent years social inequality has increased in Sweden, as in the United States, but Sweden still has one of the lowest poverty rates in the world. According to Eurostat, only 1 percent of the Swedish population lives in material poverty​—​the second-lowest rate in Europe, where an average of 9 percent live in poverty. 

In other words, the Swedish riots pose a real challenge to the standard progressive theory, which tends to explain social problems with reference to a lack of resources, inadequate public investments, and uneven distribution of wealth. If not even egalitarian Sweden is spared riots and violence, and if the progressive theory is the answer, to what lengths must we go in order to persuade unruly youths to channel their grievances through the democratic process?

Paulina Neuding is a lawyer and editor in chief of the center-right magazine Neo.

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