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Trends in the Swedish Social Investment Welfare State: ‘The Enlightened Path’ or ‘The Third Way’ for ‘the Lions’?

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  • Joakim palme
  • Axel Cronert

Abstract

The concept of social investment has gained ground on the EU-level, manifested among other things in the launching of the ‘Social investment package’ by the EU Commission in 2013 and subsequent engagement in the follow up of that initiative. In this context, the Nordic experience has no doubt played an important role and Sweden is an interesting case in point for discussing the social investment approach. We argue that Sweden has long tradition of social investment which has contributed to a number of positive outcomes, such as low poverty and high employment. However, our examination of more recent trends suggests that the achievements are now jeopardised by the trend towards a cheaper ‘Third Way’ version of the social investment approach. Since the investment quality of policy interventions has been diluted, not least in the field of active labour market policy, and old redistribution policies are at drift, it has become difficult to combat old as well as new inequalities and social divisions. Still, a more enlightened development path is open but requires serious recasting of the social investment policy package.

Suggested Citation

  • Joakim palme & Axel Cronert, 2015. "Trends in the Swedish Social Investment Welfare State: ‘The Enlightened Path’ or ‘The Third Way’ for ‘the Lions’?," ImPRovE Working Papers 15/12, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
  • Handle: RePEc:hdl:improv:1512
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    Keywords

    Social investment; welfare state; Swedish reforms; poverty; redistribution; work intensity;

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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