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sweden benefits - WelfareState GeneralTrends,...

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  The Ups and Downs of the Swedish  Welfare State: General Trends, Benefits and Caregiving Helen Lachs Ginsburg and Marguerite G. Rosenthal [Note: This is a corrected version of the footnoted article that was earlier posted on the  web.] ONCE ONE OF EUROPE'S  poorest countries, in the post World War II decades Sweden  evolved into a slum-free, affluent, egalitarian full employment welfare state, with a  strong commitment to work for all and women's equality -- the poster child of advanced  welfare states. Income differences narrowed dramatically and poverty was nearly  eliminated. Labor-management cooperation, high union density, high taxes and (except  for a few years) Social Democratic political dominance, were the norms. 1  A strong  commitment to the welfare state and jobs for all eventually cut across political party  lines. Full employment was a national ethos and the top priority of economic policy.  Swedes considered jobs the key to a normal life and the economic foundation of the  welfare state. Sweden's benefit programs were developed to meet virtually all  contingencies and include, among others: pensions; support for the unemployed that  includes benefits, job training, retraining and job creation; disability and sickness  benefits; health care; parental leave; child allowances; financial assistance for families  with disabled children; and decent housing for all. Social provision of high quality  services for the elderly, children, the ill and disabled greatly expanded the public sector  and paid jobs for women. Swedish women have among the highest labor force  participation rates in all the OECD countries.
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Going against the trend on a continent plagued by high unemployment, until the  1990s, unemployment averaged barely 2 percent; 3 percent, an extreme rarity, was  political suicide and could and did help topple a government. The Unravelling THAT'S THE SWEDEN  that was. But in the early 1990s, Sweden was hit by the worst  economic slump since the 1930s, with 3 years of falling output, the rebirth of mass  unemployment, a ballooning budget deficit, and draconian cuts and rule changes in  income benefits and services. These started under a conservative-led coalition and  continued under the Social Democrats. 2 What went wrong? Critics claim that the welfare state had simply become  unsustainable and its cost had sent the budget deficit soaring. Yet shortly before the  slump, Sweden still had full employment, a strong welfare state and a hefty budget  surplus. To understand what happened, consider the background: the growing power of 
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