People often say that countries with good social welfare lose the drive for economy because people don’t have incentive to work hard anymore. The inherent assumption is people are naturally lazy so they don’t work if they don’t have to.
However, I always think good social welfare is probably not the cause. The cause might be the outdated education system. Because if you look at the kids, they work their asses off trying to be good at something although they are in very good social welfare–their parents take care of them. However, the education system, which is designed for the industrial age to serve mass production, take children’s curiosity away, together with their ability to learn. You need that for mass production because you need a lot of people to work on the assembly line to be part of the machine.
But times have already changed. We are already deep in an information age. And a lot of developed countries already have the luxury to provide good social welfare for its people. But their education system are still locked in the industrial age. They need a new kind of education, which lifts the scaffold that the current education system puts on people.
The current education system is like ancient Chinese footbinding bandages. It should be thrown away a long time ago. Let children learn and grow themselves. Keep their curiosity alive. Keep learning continuously. So I am sure they will continue to work hard even in a high social welfare country. Just like they have played so hard when in childhood.
I kind of think the great innovation in software in north European countries have a lot to do with the fact that people there enjoy lives better and have less pressure to make a living.