Non-profit organizations in different countries
August 25, 2011 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Are there more non-profit organizations in "capitalist" countries than "socialist" countries?

We got to wondering about this question. One might think that, say, in the United States which has fewer needs of the population met by the government than say, Sweden, there would be more need for non-profits and hence more of them. What is reality?

(Yes, I know the capitalism exists in Sweden. Perhaps I am not using the best terminology)
posted by allelopath to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Perhaps I am not using the best terminology

Sweden is not socialist; it would be more accurate to call it a welfare state.

Anyway, I found a paper from 1995 called Defining the Nonprofit Sector: Sweden. I quote:

There is substantial empirical evidence that the Scandinavian nonprofit sector has had a considerable impact on society during the 20th century, and that it evolved consistently with the welfare state, rather than in opposition to or instead of it. In contrast to other countries, however, the Swedish nonprofit sector developed less in the fields of health and social services, and more in the areas of culture, leisure, and advocacy.
/.../
It is true that the potential arenas for private nonprofit activity outside the state in Sweden have been limited as a consequence of the rise and expansion of the welfare state during the major part of the 20th century. Nevertheless, it must be recognized that Swedish nonprofit organizations abound and are neither necessarily smaller nor less powerful than their counterparts in other countries.
/.../
Although private nonprofit organizations have been encouraged to participate in the fields of culture, adult education, sports and leisure, and also in politics and cooperative efforts, areas such as compulsory education, research, health care and social welfare have, by contrast, been characterized by large, state-provided, egalitarian reforms, which have left little room for organizations outside the state apparatus. The role of nonprofit organizations in these latter areas has been focused more on lobbying and acting as pressure groups to influence different levels of government to provide services than on actually providing these services themselves. This role of representation and advocacy has resulted in close ties between government and the nonprofit sector. At times it can be difficult to separate these entities one from the other.

Historically, a main function of the strong, often government-supported, popular mass movements, beyond their primary purpose of representing the interests of their members, has been to organize and unite different groups of citizens, thereby fostering the democratic system.
posted by martinrebas at 2:48 PM on August 25, 2011


It depends on how you crunch the numbers and how you define a country a country as being market oriented or not: list of most charitable countries
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:49 PM on August 25, 2011


So few words, so many errors :/
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:52 PM on August 25, 2011


So correct terminology would be "market" vs "welfare", I guess.
posted by allelopath at 2:56 PM on August 25, 2011


I think you can't talk about it in binary terms- capitalist/socialist or market/welfare.

Australia is a "welfare state" but still is market based. Private health care parallel to public health care, etc.

It's tints on a scale, not a black and white measure.

Even the USA does food stamps, right?
posted by titanium_geek at 7:36 PM on August 25, 2011


I don't think it's going to work to think of it like that. Providing for a nonprofit status for organizations, and describing how those function in legislation, is a political process that works somewhat independently of the economic system. It's designed to create a way for voluntary associations to do work the society wants without creating government structures to do that work, but that could apply equally well to a socialist or a capitalist economy.
posted by Miko at 8:40 PM on August 25, 2011


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