A European Perspective
Edited by Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery
Chapter 3: Towards an Active and Integrated Life Course Policy: The Swedish Experience
Dominique Anxo INTRODUCTION The Swedish model is based on a strong political commitment to the goal of full employment, price stability and to egalitarian ideals (Anxo and Niklasson 2006). Presented often as the ideal type of the so-called Nordic social democratic regime, the Swedish welfare state emphasises the principles of egalitarianism, de-commodification and individualisation (Esping Andersen 1990). In the whole spectrum of social policies, individualisation has been a key part of the Swedish universal welfare state. The basic principle of the institutional model is entitlement based on citizenship/residence. The individual, and not the family, has for many years been the unit not only of taxation but also of social benefits as social rights. The individualisation of Swedish social policy is further strikingly illustrated by the lack of social benefits awarded to women on the basis of their status as wives. Sweden stands out as providing one type of societal system based on high employment rates with only a small gender gap, a high incidence of dual-earner households, extensive and generous family policy, strong welfare support systems both for childcare and parental leave, and egalitarian wage structures, including low gender wage inequality. To a considerable extent the good employment records experienced by the Swedish economy during the last three decades are clearly related to the creation of a modern welfare state, a strong public involvement in the financing and provision of healthcare, social care and education and the related expansion of public employment. Individualised taxation systems in a context of high...
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