A year ago, American newspapers headlined the election
defeat of the prime architects of Sweden's famed welfare
state, the Social Democrats, who were suddenly out of power
for the first time since 1932. The shift prompted new looks by
scholars at the future of Sweden's controversial, oft-
misunderstood experiments in social and economic welfare.
Here, historian Steven Koblik assesses some long-popular
stereotypes—"socialism, sin, and suicide"—of Sweden. M.
Donald Hancock, a professor of government, reviews the
Social Democrats' troubled efforts to combine economic
growth, egalitarianism, and "compensatory" welfare. Political
scientist Steven Kelman looks at the future. Our Background
Books review-essay stresses studies of Sweden's earlier history
and culture and its neglected literature.