The Nordic Paradox

The Nordic Paradox

The InterNations Expat Insider survey 2023 has commented on the so-called ‘Nordic Paradox’ in which Scandinavian countries score high while not so highly on the Expat Insider Survey.

Scandinavian nations and Finland score highly on the World Happiness Index, but not so highly on the Expat Insider Survey. This is because both surveys use different metrics. Whereas expats might enjoy local culture and high wages, for instance, ease of settling in can be a factor which brings down ratings in some surveys. InterNations says that according to their results, Panama, Mexico, Kenya, Brazil and the Philippines are the friendliest countries in the world, whereas Denmark, Austria, Kuwait, Norway and Germany score lowest.

The Nordic Paradox
Photo: ConvertKit/Unsplash

The most powerful passports in 2024

  • France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain (194 destinations)
  • Finland, South Korea, Sweden (193 destinations)
  • Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands (192 destinations)
  • Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom (191 destinations)

The latest Henley Global Mobility Report, generated by the Henley Passport Index, based on IATA data, assigns rankings based on how many countries your passport allows you to visit without a visa. If you have a Japanese passport, for instance, you can now visit 194 nations out of 227 without a visa.

In second place come Finland, South Korea and Sweden. Austria is now in third place, sharing the spot with Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, France and Luxembourg. If you have a passport from these countries, you will be able to visit 192 nations visa-free. US-passport holders can access 184 countries. However, they do not fare as well as their British counterparts – a UK passport facilitates entry into 191 countries. The UK and USA, who held the top position in 2014, have been going down in the rankings.

Related: Insider Tips and Advice from Expats Living in Scandinavia

The Nordic Paradox
The general trend over the history of the 18-year-old ranking has been towards greater travel freedom, with the average number of destinations travelers are able to access visa-free nearly doubling from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023.

Henley Passport Index states:

“The general trend over the history of the 18-year-old ranking has been towards greater travel freedom, with the average number of destinations travelers are able to access visa-free nearly doubling from 58 in 2006 to 109 in 2023. However, the global mobility gap between those at the top and bottom of the index is now wider than it has ever been, with top-ranked Singapore able to access 165 more destinations visa-free than Afghanistan.”

You can check out your own passport’s access power here. The index will also give you access to 18 years’ worth of historical data, allowing you to analyze how visa entry has changed over nearly two decades.

Related: Conquering Challenges as an Expat in Scandinavia

The Nordic Paradox
Translation systems are becoming easier and better.

Translation challenges

As anyone who has used an online translation device, such as Google Translate, will be aware, the results of these systems can be somewhat mixed, but machine translation is becoming increasingly commonplace and sophisticated. The market size is estimated to have been around USD1,060 million in 2022, and Forbes estimates that it will reach USD325 billion in 2025. Look out for an increase in systems like the machine at Seibu-Shinjuku in transportation throughout the world.

With an increase in the number of foreign visitors to Japan post-pandemic, the nation’s train services have responded by installing an automatic translation window in one of Tokyo’s busiest stations, Seibu-Shinjuku. The system has been trialed at Kansai International Airport and allows passengers to communicate directly with an operator: the screen automatically translates Japanese into 11 other languages.

The Nordic Paradox, compiled by Tor Kjolberg

Previous articleA Guide to Navigating Swedish Weather As an Expat
Next articleNever Visit Oslo, Norway
Avatar photo
Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.