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Changing social equality

Changing social equality: The Nordic welfare model in the 21st century

Jon Kvist
Johan Fritzell
Bjørn Hvinden
Olli Kangas
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  • Book Info
    Changing social equality
    Book Description:

    The Nordic countries have been able to raise living standards and curb inequalities without compromising economic growth. But with social inequalities on the rise how do they fare when compared to countries with alternative welfare models, such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany? Taking a comparative perspective, this book casts new light on the changing inequalities in Europe. It will be invaluable for students and policy makers interested in European social policy and living conditions.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-661-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. List of tables and figures
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. ONE Changing social inequality and the Nordic welfare model
    (pp. 1-22)
    Jon Kvist, Johan Fritzell, Bjørn Hvinden and Olli Kangas

    Nordic mass media regularly announce the end of equality in the Nordic countries – is it a reality or merely another example of journalistic dramatisation and myth-building? In this book we aim to clarify in what ways equality has actually characterised the Nordic countries and to what extent we now find less equality in earnings and disposable incomes, participation in paid employment and informal care, social participation, educational achievements and health and well-being. Assuming that we can confirm that there has been a shift away from equality, we should then be able to point to factors and mechanisms that have...

  3. TWO Anti-immigration attitudes, support for redistribution and party choice in Europe
    (pp. 23-44)
    Henning Finseraas

    The increasing level of ethnic heterogeneity² in Europe has spurred a debate about the relationship between ethnic diversity and income redistribution by the state. The current debate is much inspired by Alesina and Glaeser’s (2004) sceptical view of the possibility of reconciling ethnic diversity and generous welfare arrangements.³

    The debate about the relationship between ethnic diversity and the welfare state is of particular interest for the Nordic countries, which developed their comparatively generous welfare states in a context of ethnic homogeneity. Over the last three decades, however, non-Western immigration has made the Nordic countries less homogeneous. In Denmark and Norway,...

  4. THREE Do we all (dis)like the same welfare state? Configurations of public support for the welfare state in comparative perspective
    (pp. 45-68)
    Mads Meier Jæger

    Does equality in outcomes lead to a preference for equality? Compared to other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, the Nordic countries have welfare systems characterised by high levels of redistribution, universal coverage and generous cash benefits and social services. This welfare state architecture has resulted in high levels of equality in socioeconomic and social outcomes. However, while conventional wisdom has it that the populations in the Nordic countries have ‘a passion for equality’ that matches the high level of actual equality, results from comparative research on welfare attitudes suggest otherwise. Indeed, when compared to other OECD countries,...

  5. FOUR Eroding minimum income protection in the Nordic countries? Reassessing the Nordic model of social assistance
    (pp. 69-88)
    Susan Kuivalainen and Kenneth Nelson

    Means-tested social assistance and minimum income benefits mitigate financial hardship and alleviate poverty. Whereas social insurance aims to provide protection against loss in work-related income, and family or child benefits are intended to compensate households for additional child-related costs, social assistance is meant to provide a safety net for households that have insufficient incomes and that do not qualify for other types of public support. Several scholars point to the necessity of a system of well-functioning minimum income benefits. According to Marshall (1950), the provision of a certain minimum income for all members of society is among one of the...

  6. FIVE Equality in the social service state: Nordic childcare models in comparative perspective
    (pp. 89-118)
    Gabrielle Meagher and Marta Szebehely

    The Nordic countries are renowned for high levels of both equality and tax-funded social service provision. Equality and services are linked by the roles that extensive provision of services plays in enabling women’s labour market participation and in ensuring that the capacity to pay does not determine access to services. The connection between institutional structures and equality achievements led Jorma Sipilä to argue in the mid-1990s that social care services are the key to the Scandinavian welfare model. Although Sipilä’s argument has since been challenged (see, for example, Rauch, 2007), any reassessment of the Nordic welfare model would not be...

  7. SIX Welfare state institutions, unemployment and poverty: comparative analysis of unemployment benefits and labour market participation in 15 European Union countries
    (pp. 119-142)
    M. Azhar Hussain, Olli Kangas and Jon Kvist

    Much intellectual effort has been expended on debating welfare state regimes – whether they exist (and, if so, how many), what their central characteristics are and whether they are becoming more similar or not. In hisThree worlds of welfare capitalism, which launched an avalanche of welfare regime studies, Gøsta Esping-Andersen (1990) emphasised that a welfare state regime consists of a multifaceted interplay between labour markets and social policies. From this perspective he distinguished three clusters of welfare state: Nordic, Liberal and Corporatist regimes. The hallmark of the Nordic welfare state, consisting of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, is a...

  8. SEVEN Social inequalities in health: the Nordic welfare state in a comparative context
    (pp. 143-164)
    Clare Bambra

    It is now widely acknowledged that welfare states are important determinants of health as they mediate the extent, and impact, of socioeconomic position on health (Navarro et al, 2003, 2006; Bambra, 2006a; Chung and Muntaner, 2007; Eikemo et al, 2008a). Welfare state provision varies extensively, but typologies have been put forward to categorise them into three, four or even five distinctive types or welfare state regimes (see Chapter 1). The concept of welfare state regimes has been used to analyse cross-national differences in population health. These studies have almost invariably concluded that population health is enhanced by the relatively generous...

  9. EIGHT Income inequality and poverty: do the Nordic countries still constitute a family of their own?
    (pp. 165-186)
    Johan Fritzell, Olof Bäckman and Veli-Matti Ritakallio

    The comparatively low degrees of income inequalities and relative poverty rates have long been a salient feature of the Nordic countries. Low inequality and low poverty rates are commonly viewed as key ingredients of what constitutes the Nordic welfare model (see, for example, Kautto et al, 1999), with strong influences from institutional characteristics and welfare state redistribution systems (see, for example, Brandolini and Smeeding, 2007; Bäckman, 2009; Fritzell and Ritakallio, 2010). A fundamental dimension of these social schemes – and of the Nordic model in general – is universalism (Kildal and Kuhnle, 2005). No doubt, there is abundant evidence that...

  10. NINE Is immigration challenging the economic sustainability of the Nordic welfare model?
    (pp. 187-200)
    Christer Gerdes and Eskil Wadensjö

    The idea that substantial immigration, especially from countries outside the rich West, is incompatible with a Nordic kind of welfare state, has been put forward in the debate on immigration. This chapter asks under what conditions immigration from countries outside the rich West is – or might become – a real and significant challenge to the economic sustainability of the Nordic welfare model. Immigration might, for instance, have an effect on wages and employment. More specifically, this chapter examines if immigration might lead to a financial weakening of the Nordic welfare state.

    We ask to what extent immigration leads to...

  11. TEN Nordic responses to rising inequalities: still pursuing a distinct path or joining the rest?
    (pp. 201-206)
    Jon Kvist, Johan Fritzell, Bjørn Hvinden and Olli Kangas

    In the introductory chapter to this volume (Chapter One) we identified a number of key issues related to current changes in social inequality in the Nordic countries. In these concluding remarks we first summarise the main factors contributing to the changes, based on the analyses presented in the individual chapters. Second, we discuss whether the Nordic welfare states have been able to prevent or mitigate increasing inequalities. Finally, we seek to give some answers to the critical question raised in the introductory chapter: are the Nordic countries managing to stem the international tide of inequality better, worse or perhaps just...