A member of celebrated Swedish pop group ABBA recently made this confession about the group’s signature bell bottoms and platform heels: “[W]e looked like nuts in those years. Nobody can have been as badly dressed on stage as we were.” It turns out that ABBA’s unique fashion choices were partially due to Swedish tax code.

According to ABBA: The Official Photo Book, “[T]he band’s style was influenced in part by laws that allowed the cost of outfits to be deducted against tax—so long as the costumes were so outrageous they could not possibly be worn on the street.”

Sweden’s tax policies have changed a great deal since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when ABBA was at the height of its popularity. The country eliminated the inheritance tax in 2005, the wealth tax in 2007, and taxes on residential property in 2008.

As pointed out by C. Fred Bergsten of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, “[Sweden] cut marginal tax rates and simplified its tax code so much that nearly two-thirds of Swedes simply confirm by phone that the declaration automatically prepared for them by the tax authorities is correct.” This Nordic country known for ABBA and IKEA has also cut its corporate tax rate to 22 percent.

In addition to reforming its tax policies, Sweden has moved to decisively overhaul its welfare state, opting for free-market solutions that advance economic freedom.

As documented in the Index of Economic Freedom, Sweden has measurably improved economic freedom over the past 20 years and has dramatically narrowed the gap with America, where economic freedom has been declining at an alarming rate.


It’s no surprise that Sweden has shown enviable economic resilience, while America’s entrepreneurial dynamism is on virtual life support due to the big-government policies of the Obama Administration.

It’s long past time for Americans to reclaim their lost economic freedom from statist politicians in Washington.

As ABBA put it in Mamma Mia!, “I’ve been cheated by you since I don’t know when. So I made up my mind, it must come to an end.”