The Troika of Sociology, Political Science and Economics
- Elgar original reference
Edited by Gert Tingaard Svendsen and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen
13 The Nordic welfare state Thora Margareta Bertilsson and Christian Hjorth-Andersen 13.1 Introduction The Scandinavian countries stand out in the present world economy as both competitive and well-functioning societies.1 This is an interesting observation in light of the fact that these societies, besides being wealthy also cultivate strong equity-values. This raises classic questions of compatibility between equity and eﬃciency: traditional views both in economics (Hayek, 1945) and in sociology (Schumpeter, 1976; Weber, 1978: 85–113; O’Connor, 1981) tend to propagate quite opposite views; too much focus on equity undermines eﬃciency, while eﬃciency in turn erodes equity. It may be unfair that one person is a professor and another person an asphalt worker but the gain in eﬃciency outweighs the costs of inequality. On a more general level, we seek to address the old relationship of the state versus the market in a new light: what are the mechanisms by which equity under some conditions can translate into eﬃciency? Gösta EspingAndersen has for decades been an ardent spokesman for the Nordic welfare mix, that heavily relying on tax-supported scheme of welfare subsidiaries for social and family care, in the long run, pools social resources better than any other model (Esping-Andersen, 1990, 1999, 2002, 2006). We are basically in agreement with Esping-Andersen here, but would like to stress the generic feature of the Nordic welfare states: the combined perspective of eﬃciency and equity was – and is – at the heart of its construction. From a social...
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