Basic Income: Cornerstone of the Nordic Welfare State

Social policies in the Nordic countries have been characterised by long continuity. Neither neoliberal global tendencies nor reoccurring economic crises have seriously challenged the Nordic Model’s cornerstone, universal access to a certain level of welfare services and benefits. Even if the model’s details and levels of funding are sometimes disputed, there is a basic political consensus. Challenges for the social security system are coming from outside politics: from structural changes in the labour market. A growing number of people do not have permanent, full-time employment, but earn their living in less regular and uncertain conditions. They fit poorly into the system as it has been designed during previous decades. The same factors that bring about stability make policies difficult to change. There are few political utopias – that is, future oriented ideas in apparent opposition to the order of things prevailing at the time. 

Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) is one of the few “Real Utopias” of today, i.e., transformative ideas that nevertheless are translatable into roadmaps with accessible waystations. The texts presented here are a part of that “translation work”, explaining the idea’s basic traits, the economic and social developments that have made it topical, and the various areas of life where its implementation might have a positive – maybe a decisive – effect.