The Economy: How the Swedes Do It

A SMALL sense of deprivation often nags Americans visiting abroad. They note the frequency of London's shiny red double-decker buses, the scrubbed-clean streets of Paris and the tranquil, carefully manicured parks of Frankfurt. At a time when public services in the U.S. are in such a mess, Americans wonder how the Europeans manage to do so well.

A major reason is that Europeans accept tax bites that would numb Americans. Though partly warped by differences in purchasing power, some comparisons are enlightening. An unmarried German worker earning $5,000 a year pays about $1,500 in income and social taxes; a single American earning...

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