Nordic eldercare: Weak universalism becoming weaker?

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Series Details Vol.28, No.3, 2018, p.294–308
Publication Date July 2018
ISSN 0958-9287 (print) | 1461-7269 (online)
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This article builds on recent research on the fortunes of universalism in European social policy by tracing the development of eldercare policy in four Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Six dimensions of universalism are used to assess whether and how eldercare has been universalized or de-universalized in each country in recent decades and the consequences of the trends thereby identified.

We find that de-universalization has occurred in all four countries, but more so in Finland and Sweden than in Denmark and Norway. Available data show an increase in for-profit provision of publicly funded care services (via policies promoting service marketization), and an increase of family care (re-familialization), as well as of services paid out-of-pocket (privatization).

These changes have occurred without an explicit attack on universalism or retrenchment of formal rights. Nevertheless, the changes threaten the class- and gender-equalizing potential of Nordic welfare states.

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