Journal Article

Understanding Swedish social democracy: victims of success?

J Vartiainen

in Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Published on behalf of The Oxford Review of Economic Policy Ltd

Volume 14, issue 1, pages 19-39
Published in print March 1998 | ISSN: 0266-903X
Published online March 1998 | e-ISSN: 1460-2121 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxrep/14.1.19
Understanding Swedish social democracy: victims of success?

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The economic policies of Swedish Social Democrats were not the product of one centralized authority but, rather, a series of initiatives influenced by many political actors and inspired by egaliatarian preferences. We focus on three policy areas. First, the welfare state is a central achievement of Social Democracy. Although its expansion is over, it has cemented Social Democracy's position in power and is still popular among the electorate. Second, the labour-market model is in crisis. The centralized Rehn-Meidner model is not working, coordination of wage bargaining has turned out to be difficult, and the trade unions' radical politics of the 1970s alienated Swedish employers from social concertation. Finally, macroeconomic management has had to struggle with inflationary pressures, and the overheating of the late 1980s and the subsequent deflationary shock led to a sharp increase in unemployment in the 1990s. Many of these problems are related to Social Democracy's internal strains.

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Subjects: Economic Development and Growth ; Public Economics ; Political Economy ; Public Policy

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