Edited by Heikki Ervasti, Torben Fridberg, Mikael Hjerm and Kristen Ringdal
Chapter 1: The Nordic Model
Heikki Ervasti, Torben Fridberg, Mikael Hjerm, Olli Kangas and Kristen Ringdal INTRODUCTION The ambition of this book is to describe the Nordic countries in a European context by means of the European Social Surveys of 2002 and 2004. In this chapter we present the context of our analysis, namely the institutional and historical characteristics of the Nordic countries. We also discuss the many challenges that the institutional settings of the Nordic countries are facing. The point of departure for all the chapters in this book is the idea that institutions aﬀect attitudes and behaviour. Institutions may loosely be deﬁned as the ‘formal rules of the game’. Institutions are systems of rules and procedures that are embodied in, for example, social insurance systems, electoral systems, or family law. Institutions aﬀect behaviour in that they modify and set the structure for possible actions. For instance, it is impossible to be on paid parental leave if such an institutional arrangement does not exist. Institutions also promote or discourage certain behaviour in relation to the issue of costs. For example, the existence of daycare facilities reduces the cost for women to work and, thus, enhances female labour participation. It is not only the case that institutions aﬀect behaviour that will, in turn, aﬀect attitudes and perceptions in an indirect way, but they will also aﬀect them more directly. Svallfors (2007) accounts for three ways in which institutions aﬀect attitudes. First, institutions aﬀect the visibility of social...
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