The Impact of Policy Retrenchment in Europe
Edited by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead
Chapter 14: Early fiscal consolidation and negotiated flexibility in Sweden: A fair way out of the crisis?
Despite a wave of privatizations and liberalization of a large part of the service sector during the 1990s, Sweden’s public sector remains large, by international standards, reflecting strong public and political involvement in the provision of a wide range of services. The tendency towards retrenchment of the public sector and increased competition since the mid-1990s, common to many modern economies, have led to a decrease in public employment, but the share of public employees in total employment remains one of the highest among OECD countries (31 per cent in 2010). During the early phase of the current crisis (2008–09), employment declined in the female-dominated public sector, in particular at the municipality and county levels, which are in charge of the provision of social services, health care, and primary and secondary education. However, the employment decline in the public sector was relatively short-lived and heavily concentrated on employees with fixed-term contracts. At the end of 2011, public sector employment was almost at the same level as before the onset of the Great Recession.
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