The European understanding of the Nordic welfare model has often been simplified and over-optimistic. But the welfare regime has led to high levels economic competitiveness, social cohesion and well-being in all Nordic countries. Nevertheless, the recent developments in Nordic social policy – influenced by neo-liberal mainstream – have marked a shift towards a new mode of policy-making and new policy preferences. The time has come to assess this situation in a context of every country is looking for success models.
Maria JEPSEN, Director of Research, ETUI
Ville-PEKKA-SORSA, Editor of the book “Rethinking Social Risk in the Nordics”, Post-doctoral Researcher at University of Helsinki
Liisa JAAKONSAARI, Member of the European Parliament, S&D Group
Matthieu MEAULLE, Senior Researcher, FEPS
We organize this debate in the context of the launch of a new book “Rethinking Social Risks in the Nordics”, part of the Nordic Economies after the Crisis project, started by FEPS in 2010 with the support of the Finnish Kalevi Sorsa Foundation, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Joint Committee of the Nordic Social Democratic Labour Movement (SAMAK), Economic Council of the Labour Movement in Denmark and Swedish Arbetarrörelsens Tankesmedja.
The Nordic welfare regimes have been for long characterised by effective management of social risk, which has led to high levels economic competitiveness, social cohesion and well-being in all Nordic countries. This success is primarily caused by high degree of universalism in state-led social protection common to all Nordic countries. The new book Rethinking social risk in the Nordics questions this view. While there is some truth in the success story, it is not the whole story. Instead of a public approach common to all countries, the Nordic approaches have been characterised by a great variety of public, occupational and private solutions for assessing, sharing and managing social risks. The idea of a homogenous Nordic model in the politics of social risks is also false. Even though common developments and some family resemblance can be found, all Nordic countries have differed in their approaches to social risk and opted for different political trajectories at different points of time. While all countries have become increasingly individualised and workfare-based in their distribution of social risks, some countries have now opted much more strongly for the financialisation and privatisation of welfare provision than others. The Nordic export-led growth model is also challenged by the current economic crisis. Is the Nordic model a solution to get out of the crisis?
This volume sheds light over the Nordic approaches to social risk and over the politics of social risk more generally. It also provides new insights to and critiques of the contemporary Nordic politics of social risk. It is essential reading for all international political actors and scholars interested in the Nordic public policies and politics of social risks.
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