The OECD and European Welfare States

The OECD and European Welfare States

Globalization and Welfare series

Edited by Klaus Armingeon and Michelle Beyeler

The OECD and European Welfare States comprises 14 country studies considering OECD recommendations and their implementation in Western European welfare states, an analysis of the internal processes in the OECD, a theoretical introduction and a concluding comparative chapter. The overall results show a large degree of consistency in OECD analyses and recommendations, though little efficacy is revealed. The authors of this book have compiled a major contribution to the analysis of the impact of international organisations on national welfare states, widening the scope of traditional analyses of national welfare state development.

Chapter 4: Finland: considering OECD guidelines but within national institutional settings

Pekka Kosonen

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, social policy and sociology, welfare states


Pekka Kosonen INSTITUTIONAL AND POLITICAL CONTEXT Finland can be said to belong to a Nordic welfare model, or ‘Social Democratic regime’, more and more so since the beginning of the 1980s. Common goals like universalism, public responsibility for services, equality and full employment have united Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Based on a system of ‘social corporatism’, policy-making in these countries deviates in many respects from more market-oriented lines (Kosonen 1998). However, while Esping-Andersen (1990) stresses ‘decommodification’ in the Nordic welfare states, at least in the case of Finland the basis of the system in a ‘working society’ should be remembered. It is thus a question of a process in which the normalcy of wage-work has been made compatible with the universalist principle of social citizenship (Kettunen 2001). In the postwar period, both universalism and earnings-related benefits have characterised the Finnish welfare state. Universalism is in the interest of agrarian population and manual workers, whereas skilled workers and the middle classes have favoured earnings-related arrangements. Many systems like pension schemes, health insurance and public services represent a combination of these two, since both the Centre and Social Democrats (and the labour market partners) have had strong positions on these issues. The most important reforms date back to the 1960s (earnings-related pensions in addition to basic pensions, health insurance) and the 1970s (health care, day care), although the welfare state continued to expand during the 1980s. However, the deep economic recession in the first half of the 1990s (contraction of the...

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