Date of Award

Spring 2011

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies


Dr. Margaret McLaren


Common philosophical principles formed by the three Scandinavian nations of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden developed through a shared past. Over the centuries this region’s historical, social, economic, and religious ties paved the way for a belief-system based on egalitarian ideals. By the beginning of the 20th century these egalitarian ideals formed the unique social welfare system Scandinavia has in place, benefiting citizens from the day they are born throughout their entire lives. This welfare system centers on the principle that both men and women are fully equal; furthermore society has a moral and legal obligation to remove all barriers preventing citizens from achieving their potential. Policies and laws intertwining gender equality, health care, education, and income distribution are the hallmark of Scandinavia’s welfare system and work interdependently. This thesis will analyze these common philosophical principles to show how they have paved the way for the region’s present social welfare system. It will also show how the components of Scandinavia’s present system work together resulting in some of the highest standards of living in the world. Through these common philosophical principles, the region has developed a unique identity focused on the ideals of equality, prosperity and social justice.