State-provided new baby kit
Every pregnant Finnish woman is eligible for a free, government-sponsored ‘maternity box’. The kit comes with mattress, sheets, jumpsuits, socks, diapers and several other items a new baby will need. Even the box it comes in can be used as a cot. The point of this is to provide every future citizen of Finland an equal start in life.
Paid maternal and paternal leave
In several countries, both mother and father are entitled to paid leave when their child is born. The most generous country in that regard is the Czech Republic. Both parents get a minimum of 14 weeks of paid leave, and if it’s their first child – the parents can get 48 months of government-paid leave!
50% tax reduction on Christmas
In Norway, the government wants all citizens to have a little more for the holiday season, so throughout the month of November, all state taxes are halved.
Income-based fine system
In Finland and Sweden, non-violent crimes will entail a fine, rather than jail time. The fine, however, is directly dependent on the perpetrator’s income. This creates a sort of ‘financial prison’ and serves as a deterrence from committing such crimes. In fact, a Finnish man who earned $11 million in one year had to pay a fine equal to $200,000 for speeding…
Treating bicycles like cars
Before being allowed to ride a bicycle, children in the Netherlands at the age of 10 are required to take a written, as well as practical test to assure they know how to ride the bike, as well as traffic laws that apply to it. This practice increases the likeliness of them using bicycles regularly as adults and is a major contributor to the reduction in car usage and pollution in major cities throughout the country.
The government pays kids to attend school
Swedish schoolchildren can earn the equivalent of $187 from the government for having perfect attendance. This practice reduces the amount of children skipping classes.
Only pay for the garbage you produce
To decrease the use of landfills, German cities will weigh the garbage you throw away, and you’ll be charged as much as $2 per pound of waste. This has led to people recycling and composting much of their trash.
Speeding ticket lottery
In Sweden, a part of all traffic tickets is kept in a particular pool, and any citizen without traffic violations is automatically entered into the pool with a chance to win up to $3000. This custom both encourages people to drive safely and instills a sense of fairness, where ‘being good’ is rewarded.
Australian citizens are legally obligated to participate in the elections. Any Australian, who doesn't show up to vote, is served with a fine, leading to a whopping 95% of the population voting each time. In contrast, in the U.S. the voting percentage is at 36.6%. Australians who don’t wish to vote, but would like to avoid fines tend to put in a blank paper (often with crude drawings on it).
Reduced jail time in exchange for reading
To reduce the likeliness of inmates returning to a life of crime, Brazil chose to reduce jail time for those who educate themselves by reading while in prison. For each book a prisoner reads, they must submit a report, and if deemed appropriate, it will reduce 4 days off of their sentence. Since the beginning of the program, Brazil has seen a 30% reduction in criminal relapses.
National "rainy day" fund
The Norwegian government saves all of the taxes collected for oil and petrol into a ‘rainy day’ fund. The fund has billions, and was recently withdrawn from for the very first time due to the plummeting prices of oil.
33% fewer TV advertisements
In the UK and most of Europe, TV commercials are limited to a maximum of 8 minutes per hour. In the United States, it's possible see 3 minutes of commercials every 8 minutes.
Free museum entry for new citizens
When immigrants become naturalized in Canada, they also receive a one-year free pass to thousands of cultural centers and museums across Canada. This encourages immigrants to get to know the local heritage, culture, and national parks.
Mandatory paid sick leave
In Europe, paid sick leave is mandatory in order to reduce the spread of diseases by encouraging people to remain at home when they’re sick instead of coming to work and “sharing” their germs with their coworkers.
Squats for rides in the subway
In preparations for the Sochi Winter Olympics, commuters at the Vystavochaya Metro Station in Moscow could pay for train rides by doing squats. The program lasted a month prior to the Olympic event and was very popular.
Anonymous, state-sponsored drug testing
In an effort to reduce the number of overdosing and related deaths, the Netherlands offers a free, anonymous service that tests the composition of narcotics. The test lists the ingredients of the drug, warning users of potentially dangerously laced ones, as well as ways to treat potential cases of related overdosing.
Citizens manage the country's social media
Each and every week, Sweden’s official Twitter account is run by a randomly-selected citizen. This is done to show Sweden’s cultural diversity and progressiveness.