Globalizing Welfare
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Globalizing Welfare

An Evolving Asian-European Dialogue

Edited by Stein Kuhnle, Per Selle and Sven E.O. Hort

From the welfare state’s origins in Europe, the idea of human welfare being organized through a civilized, institutionalized and uncorrupt state has caught the imagination of social activists and policy-makers around the world. This is particularly influential where rapid social development is taking place amidst growing social and gender inequality. This book reflects on the growing academic and political interest in global social policy and ‘globalizing welfare’, and pays particular attention to developments in Northern European and North-East Asian countries.
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Chapter 10: Globalization and the Nordic welfare states

Jørgen Goul Andersen

Abstract

The chapter assesses the challenge of globalization for the sustainability of the Nordic welfare states. It discusses the role of globalization in an observed trend towards higher inequality in the Nordic countries; whether globalization has put more pressure on minimum wages; whether the Nordic countries face a ‘race to the bottom’ of taxes; and, finally, whether these countries face problems with competitiveness and economic performance. Based on analysis of data over several decades it appears that globalization seems overall to offer more opportunities than threats. There is hardly any evidence that globalization leads to much larger wage dispersion, and the Nordic countries have so far kept up with the challenge of high minimum wages. When considering the challenges of taxes and competitiveness, the comprehensive Nordic welfare states perform better than most countries. Public attitudes towards globalization are generally positive. The biggest challenges appear to be integration of low-skilled immigrant refugees in the workforce, and to maintain high minimum wages.

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