quinta-feira, 16 de outubro de 2014

Time to think out of the box

“True philosophy must start from the most immediate and comprehensive fact of consciousness: I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live.”     
Albert Schweitzer

The socio-economic disparity between European Countries is easily verified when we regionalize and separate those from the south and those from the north, such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, opposing Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. The reason for a different performance on GDP, quality of life, status, rights and opportunities are based on a diversified complex of variables among the time, like cultural, religious, educational and many others.  
In the case of Portugal, it’s easy to see an over-indebtedness of the Portuguese families, combined with bad policies of the banking system and government in submit excessive high risk credit. On the other hand, the behavior of consumption and saving in the case of the German families are much more stable, pointing out the fact that household savings in Germany from 1994 to 2012 oscillated between 10% and 12% of disposable income, while Portugal oscillated from 5% to 10% at the same period. 
In another analysis, it is possible to see the differences between those groups in the case of sustainability and quality of life between the biggest cities in Europe. Copenhagen in Denmark, Helsinki in Finland, Munich in Germany and Oslo in Norway faces the top 10 ranking in those requisites, while the biggest cities in south of Europe faces an average status, even underperforming cities in developing countries. The conclusion is very simple: many institutions between both groups differ greatly in performance and policies and the bottom line of all those differences is education.
Many societies all over the world prove that Education is one of the most important variable to keep peoples mind open to learn and adapt to new changes in a globalized world. A very interesting example is the unorthodox educational system in Finland. While most of these countries pressures society with many information of the exacerbated Capitalist behavior, in attempt to prepare them to work in a very heavy and stressful environment in order to archive the final outcome, which is based only in financial gain, the educational system in Finland is more based in collectiveness and freedom of thoughts, giving then the opportunity to make better choices in life, without putting them away of the needs in modern times, such as find best jobs, make clever financial choices and  be aware of the competitiveness in an interconnected world. The final result is obvious: Finland ranks 24th position in HDI and faces a very low GINI index, in the other hand, countries like Portugal, with a more traditional education system, ranks 41th in HDI and faces much higher GINI index.
There are a lot of things to do to make the world more prosperous and equal, respecting the differences between culture and religion. Many examples already shown from the top countries in Europe should be applied in the right time in order to give a better welfare to the people in other societies. One of them is education but not only. The rights to vote and express political opinions, the tolerance to different viewpoints and different kinds of people, being mindful with environment by increase the level of sustainability among the cities and increase the collectiveness among societies are the keys to a prosperous world.

Igor Saulo Pampolha Ferreira

[Artigo de opinião produzido no âmbito da unidade curricular “Economia Portuguesa e Europeia” do 3° ano do curso de Economia (1° ciclo) da EEG/UMinho]

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