Nordic Model of Welfare States

  • Jørn Henrik Petersen
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 73)


Characteristics, similarities and differences of the Nordic welfare states are developed based upon an analysis of a number of input, output and outcome measures. It is demonstrated that familiarity between the countries has to be established by outcome measures like the Gini coefficient and poverty ratios both mirroring aspects of the income distribution subsequent to taxation and transfer payments. It is argued that the Nordic countries share the basic value of equality, may be even ‘equal dignity in hut and palace’. Irrespective of different choices with regard to instruments to achieve equality, the underlying ethos of the Nordic welfare states is the same. The chapter is closed by discussing a number of challenges facing the Nordic welfare states.


  1. Andersen KB (1954) Folkeoplysning og samfund. In: Krag JO (ed) Tidehverv og Samfundsorden. Forlaget Fremad, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersen BR (1983) Two essays on the Nordic welfare state. AKF’s Forlag, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  3. Andersen BR (1984a) Kan vi bevare velfærdsstaten? AKF’s Forlag, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  4. Andersen BR (1984b) Rationality and irrationality of the Nordic welfare state. Daedalus 113(1):109–139Google Scholar
  5. Baldwin P (2001) The politics of social solidarity: class bases of the European welfare state 1875–1975. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Castle F (ed) (1993) Families of nations. Dartmouth Publishing House, Aldershot, Brookfield, Hong Kong, Singapore, SidneyGoogle Scholar
  7. Christiansen NF, Petersen K (2001) Preface. Scand J Hist 26(3):153–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Christiansen NF, Petersen K, Edling N, Haave P (eds) (2006) The Nordic model of welfare. A historical reappraisal. Museum Tusculanum Press, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  9. Esping-Andersen G (1990) The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Polity Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  10. Flora P (1983) State, economy, and society in Western Europe 1815–1975. A data handbook. Volume I: the growth of mass democracies and welfare states. Campus Verlag, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  11. Hichs A, Misra J, Ng TN (1995) The programmatic emergence of the social security state. Am Sociol Rev 60(3):329–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jonsson G (2001) The Icelandic welfare state in the twentieth century. Scand J Hist 26(3):153–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kettunen P (2001) The Nordic welfare state in Finland. Scand J Hist 26(3):225–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kettunen P (2006) The power of international comparison: a perspective on the making and challenging of the Nordic welfare state. In: Christiansen NF, Edling Ni, Haave P, Petersen K (eds) The Nordic model of welfare. Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen, pp 31–66Google Scholar
  15. Klaus S (ed) (2014) The global competitiveness report 2014–2015. World Economic Forum, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  16. Koch H (1956) Staten en fjende. Politiken, 2 DecGoogle Scholar
  17. Nordisk Socialstatistisk Komité (1998) Social tryghed i de nordiske lande. In: Nordic statistical yearbook. Nordisk Socialstatistisk Komité, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  18. Nordisk Socialstatistisk Komité (2009) Old-age pension systems in the Nordic countries. In: Report 35. Copenhagen Schultz InformationGoogle Scholar
  19. Ólafsson S (1999) The Icelandic model. In: Bouget D, Palier B (eds) Comparing social welfare systems in Nordic Europe and France. Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Ange-Guépin, Nantes, pp 61–81Google Scholar
  20. Petersen JH (1985) Den danske alderdomsforsørgelseslovgivnings udvikling I. Odense Universitetsforlag, OdenseGoogle Scholar
  21. Petersen JH (2014) Pligt & Ret, Ret & Pligt, Refleksioner over den socialdemokratiske idéarv. Syddansk Universitetsforlag, OdenseGoogle Scholar
  22. Petersen K (2006) Constructing Nordic welfare? Nordic social political cooperation 1919–1955. In: Christiansen NF, Petersen K, Edling N, Haave P (eds) The Nordic model of welfare. A historical reap-praisal. Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen, pp 67–98Google Scholar
  23. Petersen K (2011) National, Nordic and trans-Nordic: transnational perspectives on the history of the Nordic welfare states. In: Kettunen P, Petersen K (eds) Beyond welfare state models, transnational historical perspectives on social policy. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, Northampton, pp 41–64Google Scholar
  24. Sandmo A (1991) Economists and the welfare state. Eur Econ Rev 35:213–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Seedorff P (1951) Svanerne fra Norden. Gyldendal, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Public ManagementUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

Personalised recommendations