Income inequality and poverty: do the Nordic countries still constitute a family of their own?

Johan Fritzell, Olof Bäckman and Veli-Matti Ritakallio

in Changing Social Equality

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9781847426604
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305583 | DOI:
Income inequality and poverty: do the Nordic countries still constitute a family of their own?

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A distinct outcome of the Nordic model has for long been a compressed income distribution and low poverty risks. To what extent do these features still hold? Drawing on analyses of national income surveys, the Luxembourg Income Study and EU-SILC, this chapter shows that income inequality has increased in all Nordic countries over the last decades, and especially so in Finland, Iceland and Sweden. Cross-national poverty analyses show that the Nordic countries are less distinct nowadays than earlier, although still performing comparatively better than most other countries. They also have fairly low poverty persistence. However, the study of this chapter finds that the Nordic countries have difficulties when it comes to combating poverty in newer social risk categories. For both young adults and immigrants, they find that poverty rates in the Nordic countries are higher than the EU-17 average and markedly so for the population at large. Such differences, in addition to any continuation of the overall widening income differentials, will ultimately erode the legitimacy of the Nordic model.

Keywords: poverty; income inequality; social risks; cross-national analysis

Chapter.  9375 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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