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"I don't see any obvious tradeoff there."

well, add up the the gdp growth of the left nine, and the right nine (leaving norway in neither) and maybe things will become more "obvious" to you.

it turns out that the 9 countries with less "social spending" grew by 2.63% in 2003 and the 9 with more "social spending grew by 1.42%. that's a difference of 1.21% or 85%.


I wouldn't claim that the graph proves anything, one way or the other. The real evidence is in the empirical growth literature, and no-one seems to have found any significant relationship there.

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