Social Democracy and Rational Choice: The Scandinavian Experience and Beyond

Social Democracy and Rational Choice: The Scandinavian Experience and Beyond

Social Democracy and Rational Choice: The Scandinavian Experience and Beyond

Social Democracy and Rational Choice: The Scandinavian Experience and Beyond

Synopsis

Is it possible in this post-socialist world, for equity and efficiency to be reconciled ? Or is a productive welfare state a contradication in terms ? This book addresses these questions in theory and in practice, using the Nordic countries as its case study. Social Democracy and Rational Choice will appeal to readers interested in comparative institutional and policy analysis, and in particular to those concerned with the future of the welfare state and the latest developments in the Nordic countries.

Excerpt

I began working on this book early in 1990, a year after completing the final editing of Sweden: Social Democracy in Practice. That book had two closely related themes, the workings of Swedish institutional arrangements and the institutional arrangements of social democracy. When these two subjects diverged, Swedish institutional arrangements took precedence.

When I turned directly to the more theoretical analysis in starting on this book, the world was entering a period of change more rapid and significant than anything my generation had known. Getting at the foundations of social democracy became at once more urgent and problematic. For one thing, drawing a portrait of any part of Europe meant working on a new and uncertain canvas.

With the support of the Social Science Research Council of Canada and Fonds d’Aide à la Recherche du Québec, which I gratefully acknowledge, I was able to follow developments at first hand, spending altogether more than six months in the four Nordic countries between 1991 and 1993. The disruptions to home and family were considerable, and, were it not for my wife Frances Boylston, my most perceptive critic and unflagging supporter, the work would have come crashing to a halt on more than a few occasions.

It had already been slowed by events in my life which, in the end, affected not only the timing but also the approach taken. Late in 1990 my father succumbed to cancer. His illness and death forced me to confront obligations and make choices which, in retrospect, influenced the direction my intellectual work was to take.

Some of the choices concerned preserving his business in a period of economic crisis. My experience, in its small way, reinforced the lesson in the fall of the Berlin Wall: only a society in which individuals can see the fruits of their own choices and efforts rewarded through the market can prosper. But my father’s illness taught another lesson: a day will come when we will be entirely dependent on the acts and choices of others. This too was part of the human condition; even those most adept at

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