It is Trust, Baby — why Sweden does not need to lockdown its society and others do! #coronavirus
There is this non-translatable word “lagom” in swedish, which gets interpreted with “not too much, not too little”, which explains a lot about the people and the society in the northern european country.
My experience living there is a bit outdated (2001–2002 as a student and 2009 for work), but I can double that the deep-layered cultural behaviour and the over generations established “social norm” is more rational and more laid-back then most (maybe all) cultures in the world I am aware of.
I always refer back to my own observation and comparison during my first time in Sweden: in Germany it takes me 10 seconds to see or hear a person (driving or walking by); in Sweden I can be out for hours and do not meet any person, in average. This means the “social distance” we are referring back these days is completely different with 9 million people compared with almost 90 million people within roughly the same space.
Besides the physical distance it is also implying a greater need to trust, rely on and support other people, your neighbour, your family. It is very natural and set within the “social norm” that you do not damage or misuse things that belong to everybody. Its always rather a “we” instead “ of “I”.
And this leads to the current “better version” of the swedes dealing with the corona virus: they trust each other and look out for each other and trust their government and health institutions.
In comparison in Germany we see a complete different behaviour of people: Based on the recent study of the Cosmo-Konsortium (Covid-19 Snapshot Monitoring) around 90% of all germans do know that they need to stay home when they are sick, but only 77% actually do it. And only 63% stay in quarantine even if they have symptoms.
This cultural selfishness and the lack of trust in other people or even the government is the actual problem and it needs to be tackled. The next virus will come, this is for sure.