Where in the world is it easiest to get rich?

This TED talk appeared in my feed and I found it an interesting watch. I recommend you watch it, but not without the comments. It’s funny, too.

During my studies I regarded myself as a social-liberal, but in the recent years I have become less and less fond of taxes and social care. You might say: how convenient of you, once you moved to Switzerland and started earning good money. I won’t argue about it. However I find it refreshing when I find something that challenges my point of view, like this video does.

This video claims that it’s easiest to get very rich (>$30m) in Scandinavia, because education is free, which lowers the salaries of skilled workers. This way you, as an entrepreneur, have access to relatively cheap skilled workforce. At the same time, high minimum wage forces businesses to innovate and replace simplest jobs with technology.

I wonder what is your opinion on this. One of the commenters already wrote that “correlation does not mean causation”. My observation is: OK, maybe Scandinavia is good for entrepreneurs, but it certainly sucks for the skilled workers, who I guess should go to USA once they get a degree?

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This is in 15 minutes one of the many conclusions of the book “The price of inequality” by Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel prize in economics. In fact not only Scandinavia is rich but it also has a higher economic growth than the US. The restricted access to higher education in the US protects the already rich from loosing their position but is a brake to economical growth.

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I just wonder, if the social welfare states are not overdoing it. It’s one thing to provide equal chance to use your potential (regardless of your material status), it’s another to provide equal living conditions and to subsidize every area of your life.

I grew up in Poland and received a pretty good education for free. I also never had to worry about healthcare. So with 25, I had the diploma in my hand, zero debts, and I could go where I wanted.

But the unemployment benefits, child support, generous pension, I don’t think this helps the economy. It’s a huge tax burden for the hard-working, and a good opportunity for some people to abuse the system.


I haven’t seen the ted talk but as a small size entrepreneur coming from Sweden, the only reason you’d want to have your business there is that you have a strong emotional connection to the country and can accept taxes up to 60% on profits. If you have a larger company you can negotiate your tax rates and then its a different story.

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Please have a look on my post about differential tax rate. Sweden is not that bad after all.
How can you negociate the tax rate if you are a large company? I would expect in a democratic system that there should be equality in front of the fiscal system.

I have mixed feelings regarding education, as in “going to university”.
If all you care about is the knowledge provided by the university/school, then these establishments are largely obsolete when you have so much available in internet/good old libraries.
If what you care about is credentials provided by the university, then you totally need to pursue the education provided by these establishments.

As to becoming rich, it depends as well on the path you are taking:

  • if you become rich by creating your company/being a contractor, you only need knowledge
  • if you plan to be salaried, then credentials go a long way, especially when you start working.
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I was satisfied with my education up until the end of high school (age 19). The teacher would lay the theory and the directly put a practical example. The lessons were the place where you could learn. When I went to university, the lectures were about professors talking about some topic for 2 hours, often a waste of time.

As I would agree that you will find knowledge on the internet, it’s very hard to find it without a good guide, a teacher. Schools also provide a motivating factor. I was never keen on learning school stuff. But they provided structure.