Private Choice in the Public Sector : The New Swedish Welfare Model
What has become of the famous Swedish Model? On the surface some features seem familiar: high taxes, generous welfare systems and vast government bureaucracies. But dig deeper and you will discover that major transformations have taken place. In particular the unique school voucher system, with its combination of public finan-cing and individual choice, has become emblematic of the New Swedish Model. As a symbol of the major reforms of the 1990s, it encapsulates the idea of the capitalist welfare state. Today, freedom of choice is champio-ned as a superior method of how to use politics to liberate and empower citizens.
Freedom of choice is now an integral part of the Swedish welfare model. Many reforms were implemented or developed by Social Democratic governments, as well as centre-right governments. But in the 1970s the idea of freedom of choice and private companies in the public sector was highly controversial.
This book tells the story of how freedom of choice revolutionised and created a New Swedish Model. From the controversial debates in the 1970s, via the first experiments in the 1980s, through the major reforms in the 1990s, it shows how this new model succeeded
in transforming the vast public sector into becoming the servant of the citizenry instead of its master. It is the story of the power of ideas, and of how long-term opinion making can truly make a difference.
Karin Svanborg-Sjövall has a background as a journalist, and political advisor to the Swedish Minister for Higher Education and Research. She is currently responsible for welfare policy at Timbro, a Stockholm-based, liberal think tank.