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Understanding Swedish Social Democracy: Victims of Success?

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  • Vartiainen, Juhana

Abstract

The economic policies of Swedish Social Democrats were not the product of one centralized authority but, rather, a series of initiatives influenced by many political actors and inspired by egalitarian preferences. We focus on three policy areas. First, the welfare state is a central achievement of Social Democracy. Although its expansion is over, it has cemented Social Democracy's position in power and is still popular among the electorate. Second, the labour-market model is in crisis. The centralized Rehn/Meidner model is not working, coordination of wage bargaining has turned out to be difficult, and the trade unions' radical politics of the 1970s alienated Swedish employers from social concertation. Finally, macroeconomic management has had to struggle with inflationary pressures, and the overheating of the late 1980s and the subsequent deflationary shock led to a sharp increase in unemployment in the 1990s. Many of these problems are related to Social Democracy's internal strains. Copyright 1998 by Oxford University Press.

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  • Vartiainen, Juhana, 1998. "Understanding Swedish Social Democracy: Victims of Success?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 19-39, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:14:y:1998:i:1:p:19-39
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