The GOVERNANCE blog

Governance: An international journal of policy, administration and institutions

The role of bureaucrats in managing Sweden’s economic crisis

In the current issue of Governance, Carl Dahlström describes the role of central bankers and finance ministry bureaucrats in crafting a response to Sweden’s economic crisis in the early 1990’s.  Focusing on the attempt to restrain welfare program spending during the crisis, Dahlström finds that key bureaucrats played “a decisive role in shaping a retrenchment agenda,” limiting the burden of cuts on weak and unorganized groups.  The article challenges the “conventional wisdom onf welfare-state retrenchment,” which Dahlström says would have predicted a retrenchment policy that advantaged better organized interests.  See The Bureaucratic Politics of Welfare-State Crisis: Sweden in the 1990s, April 2009.

In How New Economic Ideas Changed the Danish Welfare State, meanwhile, Christian Albrekt Larsen and Jørgen Goul Andersen consider the impact of “new economic ideas” on the evolution of Danish welfare policy from 1993 to 2001.  This is a clear example of the “independent effect” of new ideas, the authors argue; Denmark’s Social Democratic governments shifted away from long-established positions that were favored by voters.  New ways of thinking about the country’s economic challenges became so firmly established that they “generated a ‘lock-in’ effect comparable to institutional path dependency.”

Written by Governance

April 24, 2009 at 8:36 am

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