Blessing or Blame? public attitude to Nordic 'workfare' in the 1990s

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    Through out the Western countries welfare policies and in particular labour market policies changes quit dramatically. This is also the case in the Nordic countries, especially in Denmark, even though neo-liberal workfare strategies never have been an option. The aim of this article is to analyse the public attitudes connected to these changes in Scandinavia. Do the general public pity the unemployed? Do the unemployed pitythemselves? Are the policy makers blamed or blessed? Based on comparative surveys from Finland and Denmark including both a population sample and a large sub-sample of unemployed the paper shows that in the case of activation both the general public but also the unemployed themselves perceive the intensified ?active? policy as a plus-sum game. In terms of increased control the unemployed is more sceptic whereas the public to a very large extend is in favour ? especially in Finland. Thus, the political scene seems much more set for ?credit claming? than ?blame avoidance?. However, this cannot be seen as a road to a real workfare strategy. The country difference between Finland and Denmark and survey results based on Danish election data indicate that public support for ?harsher? labour market policy actually can be mitigated. And when it comes to lowering benefits the electorate in all the Nordic countries is remarkable conservative.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationAalborg
    PublisherCentre for Comparative Welfare Studies, Institut for Økonomi, Politik og Forvaltning, Aalborg Universitet
    Number of pages23
    ISBN (Print)8790789601
    Publication statusPublished - 2004
    SeriesCCWS Working Paper


    • blame avoidance
    • public opinion
    • workfare
    • unemployed
    • activation


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