The Nordic Theory of Everything

The Nordic Theory of Everything
In Search of a Better Life
Anu Partanen
Price: £
  • Hardback
19 Oct 2017
  • Social Science
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From childcare to healthcare, provision for the elderly to transparency of taxes, the Nordic countries are world leaders in organising society and it is no wonder Finland has been ranked among the happiest places in the world with an enviable work-life balance.

And so it was a major culture shock when journalist Anu Partanen moved from her Scandinavian home to America. She quickly realised that basic activities, from buying a mobile to filing taxes, were overly complicated compared to the Nordic way of life. As Partanen got to know her new neighbours, she discovered that they too shared her deep apprehensions, and she set out to understand why society in America (and much of the Western world) is organised in such a convoluted manner. Along the way, Partanen debunks the criticism that Nordic countries are socialist nanny states by focussing on four key relationships: between men and women, parents and children, employees and employers, and the government and its citizens. In so doing, she reveals that the Nordic approach allows people to enjoy more individual freedom and independence from the government while promoting a greater sense of well-being.

Filled with fascinating insights, advice and practical solutions, The Nordic Theory of Everything makes a convincing argument that we can rebuild society, rekindle optimism and become more autonomous people by following in the footsteps of our neighbours to the North.


‘Partanen is a careful, judicious writer’ New York Times

‘A passionate and intelligent argument’ Publishers Weekly

‘An earnest, well-written work worth heeding’ Kirkus

’An engaging fusion of reportage and memoir’ O, the Oprah Magazine, a Best Book of Summer 2016

‘A book you desperately need to add to your to-read pile’ Gizmodo

‘Partanen’s sensible book should be required reading’ Foreign Affairs

‘A must-read’ New York Post

'This highly readable and entertaining work is timely, as the conversation about inequality and the role of social services in this country has never been more relevant' Library Journal

Anu Partanen

About Anu Partanen

Anu Partanen is a journalist from Finland, now based in New York City. She has lived in the United States since 2008, and her work has appeared in the New York Times and The Atlantic. She also worked at Fortune Magazine as a visiting reporter through the Innovation Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University.

Before moving to the United States she worked as a journalist in her native Finland for a decade. She held many positions, ranging from managing columnist  to editor; features writer to news reporter; lecturer to on-air commentator.  For many years, she worked as a journalist for Finland’s biggest daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat. In 2016, she contributed to several talks and events at the Southbank Centre, London.