Public policy, gender equality and labour markets

Policy making in the Nordics is characterised by the welfare state and a culture of working together, from the cross-party parliamentary culture, to tripartite negotiations between the government, employers and employees, to gender inclusiveness in the workplace. Many of these aspects are seen as making up what is often referred to as the Nordic model. However, gender segregation within the workforce remains high and other complex paradoxes exist that must not be overlooked. This page seeks to provide articles on both the traditional view of the Nordics as well as research that deconstructs that view. New articles are added on a regular basis.


Family photo taken in 1944 in Helsingfors Finland. After the Second World War, smaller nuclear families became more widespread as a societal model. Photo: Helsingfors Stadsmuseum. CC-BY-4.0

2020.06.03 | Article, Byron J. Nordstrom, Labour markets

An overview of population trends in the Nordic countries since the Second World War

The Nordic countries have seen a number of important changes to their populations since the end of World War II. Perhaps most notable among these are growth, increased diversity, and gradual aging. Labour migration has also played a role and detailed people registers mean that research of all kinds can be undertaken with accessible and…

Will the welfare services of Denmark, Finland, Norway & Sweden weather the economic crisis resulting from covid-19? Photo: distinctive Norwegian coin, Børge Sandnes, colourbox.dk.

2020.05.11 | Outlook, Ilkka Kärrylä, Public policy, Economy

Nordic public debt: the dangers of restricting public spending due to the covid-19 crisis

The prevailing economic doctrine in the Nordics and Europe has it that, the lower the public debt, the more room there is for economic stimulation in downturns, such as the current covid-19 crisis. Denmark, Norway and Sweden with their comparatively low levels of public debt were able to announce relatively large economic crisis packages fairly…

The Ingrian flag.

2020.04.28 | Article, Nicholas Prindiville, Governance, The Borders of the Nordics

Ingria and the Ingrian Finns

Ingria is the historic name for the isthmus between the Baltic Sea and Lake Lagoda, connecting modern-day Finland with modern-day Estonia. Today, this region is dominated by the city of St Petersburg. Over the last four hundred years, Ingria has seen numerous invasions, annexations and changes to state boundaries, reflecting the major historical…

Ship and habour workers in Kaskö harbour in the 1920s. Photo: finna.fi, CC BY 4.0.

2020.04.16 | Outlook, Sami M Outinen, Public policy, Economy

The Nordic response to the Great Depression – an economic approach to the Corona crisis?

A look back at how Sweden and Finland dealt with two key crises in the twentieth century may be enlightening during the current Corona crisis. Firstly, the depression in 1930s, which led to Keynesian interventionalism - with some key differences - brought with it a series of steps throughout the following decades in both countries. Secondly, the…

Varying histories and democratic traditions are perhaps some of the reasons why Denmark, Finland and Norway have reacted differently to covid-19 - and why Sweden has had a completely distinctive approach. (Note that this map only shows the Nordic countries referred to in the article.) Photo: colourbox.dk.

2020.04.06 | Outlook, Johan Strang, Public policy, Nation building

Why do the Nordic countries react differently to the covid-19 crisis?

Given the striking similarity of the Nordic societies, it is interesting to note how differently some of them have reacted to the current covid-19 crisis. For example, Denmark and Norway were quick to implement a work and school lockdown and close their borders. In contrast, Sweden has raised international interest with a comparatively lax…

A picture from Seta's (Finnish LGBT rights organisation) magazine in 1976. Source: Seta's archive.

2020.03.30 | The Quick Read, Ásta Kristín Benediktsdóttir, Elsi Hyttinen, Hafdís Erla Hafsteinsdóttir , Riikka Taavetti, Tuula Juvonen, Íris Ellenberger, Minorities, Gender

Uncovering intra-Nordic queer migration in the 20th century

The view of the Nordic countries today as a place where LGBTIQ individuals and communities can enjoy equality overlooks intra-Nordic variation as well as the complicated histories found in the region. This variation has been a motivation for migration within the Nordics. Much migration, such as from Finland to Sweden and Iceland to Denmark,…

Non-standard employment such as part‐time or temporary work and low‐skilled service jobs have grown over the last couple of decades, and, they have become more uncertain, unpredictable and risky in terms of job and income security in recent decades. Photo:colourbox.dk.

2020.03.19 | Article, Young-Kyu Shin, Petri Böckerman, Research, Public policy, The Nordic Model

Trade union-administered unemployment benefit and precarious workers in Finland

The Nordic countries have some of the highest trade union rates of membership in the world. This has by some been attributed to unemployment insurance being largely administered by trade unions. Since around 1910, unemployment insurance in the Nordic countries Denmark, Finland and Sweden has been based on a voluntary system (‘Ghent’), rather than…

Were correspondence courses in Tanzania in 1960s and 1970s essentially 'Swedish' or 'African' or a mixture of both? Photo: colourbox.dk.

2020.03.02 | Article, Nikolas Glover, The Nordics in the World, Education, Research

Nordic adult educators encounter Tanzanian development in the 1960s and 1970s

In 1962 Sweden was said to be the country with the most extensive correspondence education enrolment per capita in the world. This was explained with reference to its sparse and widespread population with a high level of literacy, an efficient publishing industry and reliable postal services. None of these conditions existed in Tanganyika (renamed…

The cover of the official handbook to Sweden's feminist foreign policy, published by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2019.

2020.01.28 | Article, Sigrun Marie Moss, The Nordics in the World, Gender

An introduction to Swedish feminist foreign policy

Swedish foreign policy has long been engaged in issues relating to gender. This was cemented in 2014 by the launch of its Feminist Foreign Policy which has been heralded as ground-breaking and the most comprehensive of its kind. It allows for a systematic mainstreaming of gender throughout the whole Foreign Ministry and in all aspects of foreign…

2019.12.18 | Video, Elisabeth Tveito Johnsen, Belief systems, Education

Interview: The border between religion and culture at Christmas time in Scandinavia

Schools and TV programmes are important in shaping children and communities. In the Nordic countries, schools and broadcasters are frequently tasked with presenting cultural heritage to the public – particularly at Christmas time. Is cultural heritage exclusively Lutheran in Denmark and Norway? How do headteachers and broadcasters decide what is…

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