Presentation on theme: "The Swedish welfare state reinventing itself: is devolution out and centralism in (again)? Presentation at Boston University, February 16, 2011 by Lars."— Presentation transcript:
The Swedish welfare state reinventing itself: is devolution out and centralism in (again)? Presentation at Boston University, February 16, 2011 by Lars Niklasson, Linköping University
Sweden and the Scandinavian model The welfare state is admired by many because of Universal coverage Generous benefits Strong political support ”A high-tax equilibrium” But corporatism has been reduced Labor ”law” still by social partners Social partners are not on agency boards
Sweden: a hybrid model? Top-down conception of democracy, like France. And independent local governments. Corporatism like Germany (?) Many large international companies and many are now foreign-owned Forestry, manufacturing and high tech. Defense-driven? IKEA and H&M are exceptions. Engineering vs sales?
Who provides welfare? From corporatism to strong state: Independent regional social security have become one national agency Regional labor market boards are also one agency Local and regional governments provide most services and raise their own taxes (Sweden almost federal) Opt-outs: schools, elderly care, part of the pensions
Inside the black box Loyal and professional staff were given more room (framework laws) (Professions generally weak) Overlapping programs New clients don’t fit: youth, immigrants Loss of control in the 90s Territorial integration (networks, devolution) or functional specialization (silos)?
Strategies for reform Decentralization in the 80s and 90s Delegate to local governments Experiments in devolution NPM in the 90s Control of outputs, quality assessments Partnerships in the 90s Network/governance, germanification? Some welfare reform in the 90s Pensions, social security, unemployment
The new government in 2006 Inspired by New Labour etc General tax-cuts Stricter requirements for welfare Support for local governments No change in labor laws = Restore the work-principle: you have to work to earn your welfare The left seems to defend people on welfare rather than the working class
Centralism is back Central control of the labor market board and social security More restricted access to programs Will their former clients come to local governments (welfare)? ”Central control is necessary to guarante equal treatment” (2000-) Partnerships are out, but the government talks about ”one door in”
What happens to devolution? A parliamentary commission suggested further devolution But the hidden plan was to abolish the regions (county councils) The government then asked regional actors to amalgamate regions A coordinator is appointed to help Reorganization of agencies continue
Three pairs of glasses Rational choice institutionalism focuses on games of power and influence Sociological institutionalism helps us see how actors form their opinions in a state of confusion Historical institutionalism highlights the importance of paths
1. Games on two levels The parties keep a low profile The government is divided Ministries have very different visions Enterprise vs Labor? Social? Finance? Coordination or reform? What to do about health care? What happens in the regional dating game? Will all find partners?
2. Lots of ideas float around Competing logics Health care is based on agreements to support major hospitals Economic development is often related to the bigger cities Can the agencies reorganize to integrate with the elected bodies? EU-regions are seen as irrelevant ”New regionalism” vs jacobinism?
3. Paths determine outcomes? Devolution has consequences: now Sweden has several regional models, one involves local governments Abdication has consequences: turning the issue over to the regions The new government took a different path: reform of agencies rather than regional integration. Reduction of complexity to govern from the center.
Where will it lead? Devolution was suggested but the new government is focused on reform Anti-exclusion policies are driven from the center; can there be a role for decentralization and the regions? Centralization to make reforms and cutbacks acceptable? And after that? Can there be a new coalition for the New Regionalism of 1995?
What was the politics of the previous reforms? Sweden is ruled by economists Weak currency was a help in the 80s Three sets of crises: 1990: regulated prices, ban on strikes, application for membership of the EU 1992: 500 per cent interest rate, a program by government and opposition 1995: cut-backs to protect local gov’ts, expansion of skills development prgms