Interesting article at TCS about comparing Sweden to the United States (always a favorite pastime in our household, when we get bored of trying to guess how many yellowjackets the yellowjacket trap will kill today). Bottom line (but read the article): after transfer programs and such are taken into account, the poorest 10% of Americans earn about 39% of the US median income. The poorest 10% of Swedes earn about 38% of the US median income. In standard of living terms, anyway, it appears that poor Americans are infinitesimally better off than poor Swedes, despite all the transfer programs and such.
The exercise by the TCS author doesn’t, as far as I can tell, talk about the psychic benefits that the stability provided under the Swedish model provide. That is, I imagine (and it seems reasonable) that it’s mentally easier to be poor in Sweden than it is to be poor in the United States. I doubt that poor folk in Sweden worry overmuch that the state is going to fall in Republican hands and that things will get a little tougher in the free hospitals, whereas I know that poor people in the US do worry about that kind of thing. How much that’s worth in terms of “social justice” I don’t know.