Research environmental support to study the new welfare market in Sweden

2022-11-14

Professor Ulrika Winblad at the Department of Public Health and Care Sciences has recently been granted almost SEK 17.5 million in environmental support from the Swedish Research Council for the application The new welfare markets in Sweden - how is social equality affected? The research will last for six years and is a collaboration between researchers at the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Uppsala University, more specifically the Department of Public Health and Care Sciences, the Department of Political Science and the Department of Business Economics. The collaboration also includes researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Co-applicant researchers are Associate Professor Paula Blomqvist, Associate Professor Mio Fredriksson, Professor Josef Pallas, PhD Linda Moberg, Professor Karsten Vrangbæk, and Professor Oddvar Kaarboe.

How social welfare is best provided to the population, and what roles states, markets and non-profit forces should have in this regard is one of the most debated political and scientific issues of our time. Sweden has long been known for its welfare model with a strong emphasis on the role of the state. Over the last three decades, however, there have been far-reaching changes in this model. Welfare has come to be characterized less by public production and to an increasing extent organized as markets where private enterprise is given a greater place. Despite the fact that the first market reforms were introduced in the 1990s, there is still a lack of knowledge about what effects the welfare markets have had on the political objective of social equality, which critics believe is undermined by the construction of the welfare markets.

The research program intends to shed light on this question from different perspectives within Swedish primary care and elderly care. The first part examines how patients and users make use of the opportunity to choose providers and how socio-economic factors influence these choices. In part two, the welfare markets are examined from the supply side. How do private welfare companies act to grow and generate profit? Part three examines how government authorities try to preserve equality in welfare markets. In what way does the state work at national, regional and local level to ensure high and equal quality for everyone in the welfare markets? In the fourth part of the program, a comparison is made with Norway and Denmark to gain a deeper understanding of what distinguishes Swedish welfare markets and why for-profit private companies have gained a more prominent role in Sweden. The research program intends to contribute to a more nuanced and knowledge-based picture of the welfare markets' effects in Swedish primary care and elderly care. The results constitute an important contribution to the international literature on welfare markets as well as to the social debate in Sweden.

Last modified: 2022-12-13