Journal article

Welfare and the unemployment crisis : Sweden in the 1990s


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Publication Details

Subtitle: Sweden in the 1990s

Author list: Bergmark, Åke

Publication year: 2003

Start page: 108

End page: 122

Number of pages: 15

ISSN: 1369-6866


In the 1990s, Sweden went through a deep economic recession accompanied by a massive increase in unemployment & a rapidly growing budget deficit. The crisis had large repercussions for the welfare of many citizens & it generated cutbacks in virtually all social policy programs. This halted a welfare state expansion that had been going on for decades. It also caused great concern about the state of welfare of the nation. In 1999, the Swedish Government appointed a Welfare Commission, a team of academic researchers who were assigned the task of drawing up a balance sheet for the development of welfare in the 1990s. The Commission delivered its final report in Oct 2001. This article is a condensed account of one of the more central issues for the Commission; namely, how the unemployment crisis affected already socially & economically vulnerable groups. Looking at the development over the entire decade, three groups stand out as particularly disadvantaged in terms of individual welfare resources: young adults, immigrants, & single mothers. The downturn for these groups was especially accentuated in terms of employment & income. Young people & immigrants trying to get into the labor market during the crisis years faced the problems of newcomers to the systems of social protection. The poor economic development for single mothers could essentially be attributed to the shortage of work in general & of full-time work in particular that followed from the unemployment crisis. As a consequence, the importance of selective benefits increased & the relative size of all public transfers -- despite rationing measures -- stayed fairly unchanged. The results highlight the great influence of macroeconomic conditions & policy making for the welfare of vulnerable groups in society. 3 Tables, 6 Figures, 14 References. Adapted from the source document.


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