Crisis, Miracles, and Beyond: Negotiated Adaptation of the Danish Welfare System

Crisis, Miracles, and Beyond: Negotiated Adaptation of the Danish Welfare System

Crisis, Miracles, and Beyond: Negotiated Adaptation of the Danish Welfare System

Crisis, Miracles, and Beyond: Negotiated Adaptation of the Danish Welfare System

Excerpt

What explains the remarkable resilience of the Danish welfare state, and what does this tell us about the future of the welfare state in general? How did this welfare state survive a quarter century that saw the collapse of its economic foundations in Keynesian demand management and full employment, and the erosion of its political foundations in the face of a fairly successful and OECD-wide ideological challenge to the whole idea of the welfare state from the political right? In order to answer these important questions, this volume presents a comprehensive account and analysis of the institutional structure of the Danish welfare state.

The focus of the book

The book focuses on four narrower sets of questions. The first is simply an empirical question: what is the institutional and political structure of the Danish welfare state? Surprisingly, there has been no comprehensive survey of the Danish welfare state since Lars Nørby Johansen’s chapter in Peter Flora’s path-breaking Growth to Limits. But Johansen presented a dry, empirical, and quite brief survey of changes in spending levels, programs, and clientele. His analysis suffered from a lack of attention to the actual bureaucratic structures that delivered services, the economic sustainability of rapidly rising spending, and the political basis of welfare state support. Although Gøsta EspingAndersen presented a roughly contemporaneous analysis of the political basis for the Danish welfare state in Politics Against Markets, this too suffered from a marked defect. Esping-Andersen more or less elevated Sweden as the exemplar of the Scandinavian social democratic welfare state. Denmark thus appeared to be a lesser or defective version of the Swedish model; the preeminence of the Swedish model obscured the details of the Danish system. The first task this book takes up is thus a comprehensive survey of the Danish welfare state. Naturally we examine some of the core social services and transfers: on the service side, health, and daycare; on the transfer side, pensions, unemployment insurance and some smaller programs.

Second, we ask how these various pieces fit together with each other, with the broad macroeconomy and with political dynamics. Rather than simply surveying the core social services and cash transfers, we also show how these services and transfers are governed by central and local decision-makers, how they interact with labor markets, and what their macroeconomic consequences are.

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