Norway: Rags to Riches

Jan and Miriam Hansen
Friday, 2:15 pm

During the hundred year period in the 19th and early 20th centuries, over 900,000 emigrants left Norway due to poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and lack of political and religious freedom. What were the circumstances that changed Norway from a land of hopelessness and poverty to become one of the world’s richest countries today? The power-point program, “Norway: Rags to Riches” explores the path that the country has taken from its relative poverty to today’s shared wealth and equality, social welfare, and world leadership in human rights.

Jan and Miriam Hansen are from Altoona, in western Wisconsin, where they’ve lived for the past twenty-five years.  Jan emigrated from from the west coast city of Aalesund, Norway, to Chicago when he was a teenager.  Miriam, a Minnesota native, grew up in Roseville, north of St. Paul. They met as students at St. Olaf College; they have two daughters, both of whom are teachers. Jan is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.  Miriam is a former librarian and English teacher.  Together they’ve been involved with international education, and have taught in several foreign countries. While continuing research on international economics, Jan has also taught Norwegian language classes at the University of Arizona in Tucson and at the Waldemar Ager Historical Association in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Miriam continues to work in the Ager Museum library, with its rich collection of materials related to Scandinavian culture, economics and history.