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Working Paper No. 110. Resilience through Restructuring

PublicationWorking paper
Andreas Bergh, Företagandets villkor, Gissur Ó. Erlingsson, Globalisering, Institutionell ekonomi, Välfärd
Working Paper No. 110.
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Abstract

In 1980, Sweden was a highly regulated economy with several state monopolies and low levels of economic freedom. Less than 20 years later, liberal reforms have turned Sweden into one of the worlds most open economies with a remarkable increase in economic freedom. While taxes and expenditure shares of GDP remain high, there has been a profound restructuring of Sweden’s economy in the 1980s and 1990s. Furthermore, the degree of political consensus is striking, both regarding the policies that characterized Sweden up to 1980, as well as the subsequent liberalizations. Since established theories have difficulties explaining institutional change in heavily institutionalized settings, we seek to understand how the Swedish style of policy-making produced this surprising political consensus on liberal reforms. Building on previous research, we underscore the importance of three complementary factors: (i) Policy-making in Sweden has always been influenced by, and intimately connected to, social science. (ii) Government commissions have functioned as ‘early warning systems’, pointing out future challenges and creating a common way to perceive problems. (iii) As a consequence from social science influence and the role of public investigations, political consensus has evolved as a specific feature of Swedish style of policy-making. The approach to policy-making has been rationalistic, technocratic and pragmatic. Thus, the political consensus in Sweden on substantial liberalizations is no more surprising than the political consensus on the development of the welfare state.

Related content: Liberalization without Retrenchment

Bergh, A. & Erlingsson, G. (2006). Resilience through Restructuring: Swedish Policy-Making Style and the Consensus on Liberalizations 1980–2000. Ratio Working Paper No. 110.

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Working Paper No. 110. Resilience through Restructuring
Working paperPublication
Bergh, A. & Erlingsson, G.
Publication year

2006

Abstract

In 1980, Sweden was a highly regulated economy with several state monopolies and low levels of economic freedom. Less than 20 years later, liberal reforms have turned Sweden into one of the worlds most open economies with a remarkable increase in economic freedom. While taxes and expenditure shares of GDP remain high, there has been a profound restructuring of Sweden’s economy in the 1980s and 1990s. Furthermore, the degree of political consensus is striking, both regarding the policies that characterized Sweden up to 1980, as well as the subsequent liberalizations. Since established theories have difficulties explaining institutional change in heavily institutionalized settings, we seek to understand how the Swedish style of policy-making produced this surprising political consensus on liberal reforms. Building on previous research, we underscore the importance of three complementary factors: (i) Policy-making in Sweden has always been influenced by, and intimately connected to, social science. (ii) Government commissions have functioned as ‘early warning systems’, pointing out future challenges and creating a common way to perceive problems. (iii) As a consequence from social science influence and the role of public investigations, political consensus has evolved as a specific feature of Swedish style of policy-making. The approach to policy-making has been rationalistic, technocratic and pragmatic. Thus, the political consensus in Sweden on substantial liberalizations is no more surprising than the political consensus on the development of the welfare state.

Related content: Liberalization without Retrenchment

Working Paper No. 110. Resilience through Restructuring
Working paperPublication
Bergh, A. & Erlingsson, G.
Publication year

2006

Abstract

In 1980, Sweden was a highly regulated economy with several state monopolies and low levels of economic freedom. Less than 20 years later, liberal reforms have turned Sweden into one of the worlds most open economies with a remarkable increase in economic freedom. While taxes and expenditure shares of GDP remain high, there has been a profound restructuring of Sweden’s economy in the 1980s and 1990s. Furthermore, the degree of political consensus is striking, both regarding the policies that characterized Sweden up to 1980, as well as the subsequent liberalizations. Since established theories have difficulties explaining institutional change in heavily institutionalized settings, we seek to understand how the Swedish style of policy-making produced this surprising political consensus on liberal reforms. Building on previous research, we underscore the importance of three complementary factors: (i) Policy-making in Sweden has always been influenced by, and intimately connected to, social science. (ii) Government commissions have functioned as ‘early warning systems’, pointing out future challenges and creating a common way to perceive problems. (iii) As a consequence from social science influence and the role of public investigations, political consensus has evolved as a specific feature of Swedish style of policy-making. The approach to policy-making has been rationalistic, technocratic and pragmatic. Thus, the political consensus in Sweden on substantial liberalizations is no more surprising than the political consensus on the development of the welfare state.

Related content: Liberalization without Retrenchment

Ratio Working Paper No. 349: Industrial conflict in essential services in a new era – Swedish rules in a comparative perspective
Working paperPublication
Karlson, N.
Publication year

2021

Published in

Ratio Working Paper

Abstract

This paper examines whether the Swedish regulatory system of dealing with industrial conflicts that affect essential services need an update or reform. Are the existing rules effective in a world where many essential services are upheld by many interdependent agents in complex systems where every single node becomes critical for the functioning of the system, and where the essential service activities could be either private or public? A comparative study is conducted with the corresponding regulatory systems of the United Kingdom, Germany, and Denmark.
The conclusion is that Sweden is a special case. The Swedish protection against and readiness in dealing with societally harmful industrial conflicts in essential services is weaker than in the countries of comparison. Just as in relation to other threats to essential services, it is not sustainable to claim that just because such a threat is not currently present, there would be no need for preparedness.
There are many alternative ways to handle this. Desirable methods should both prevent harmful conflicts from erupting and end conflicts that have grown harmful to society at a later stage. The labour market organisations should have a mutual interest in reforming the rules.

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