Norwegians enjoy a healthy economy with strong socialist traditions in equitable income distribution and generous welfare spending. Living standards are high, but so is the cost of living. Norway's Gini index score (which rates social equality in a country, with a score of 0 indicating perfect equality and a score of 100 indicating perfect
|GDP per Capita (US$)|
|SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.|
inequality) in 1995 was 25.8, far below those of other affluent economies such as the United States (40.8), the United Kingdom (36.1), and Switzerland (33.1), which means that there are few very large private fortunes and virtually no blatant poverty in the country. The unemployment rate was estimated at 2.9 percent in 1999, and consumer price inflation was 2.3 percent in 1998, both much lower than the western European averages. The extensive welfare system helps keep public expenditures steady at more than one-half of GDP.
Despite high per capita income and generous welfare benefits, many Norwegians worry about the time when oil and gas begin to run out in the next 2 decades. As in other Nordic countries, many young and educated Norwegians consider moving abroad partly in pursuit of greater personal challenge.