Discarding social investment and redistribution in the name of austerity? The case of Finnish family policy reforms 2007–2015

A1 Journal article (refereed)


Internal Authors/Editors


Publication Details

List of Authors: Mikael Nygård, Josefine Nyby, Mikko Kuisma
Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis
Publication year: 2019
Journal: Policy and Society
Volume number: 38
Issue number: 3
Start page: 519
End page: 536
eISSN: 1839-3373


Abstract

Since the 1970s, Finland has conducted family policies that could be
labelled social investments, for example, investments in work–family
balance or public childcare, while at the same time it has protected the
economic standard of families with children through various income
transfers. However, after the 2008–2009 financial crisis these policies
including those with socially investing objectives have been
increasingly subjected to cuts in benefit levels and entitlements in
order to lower public expenditure, which raises the question if there
has been a shift away from social investments and redistribution towards
austerity policies. By analysing government programs from the period
2007–2015, this article discusses if, and to what extent, such a change
can be traced in the Finnish government discourse. More specifically the
article studies the narrative stories used to legitimise changes
(reforms) in existing family policy and to what extent these changes
were informed by a social investment perspective focusing on ‘new’
social risks, a traditional redistribution perspective emphasising ‘old’
social risks, or a neoliberal austerity perspective advocating fiscal
austerity and welfare cuts. We argue that the first two perspectives
were dominant prior to and during the first phase of the international
financial crisis, whereas the third perspective became dominant after
the crisis. Moreover, the results show that the main storyline in the
legitimisation of the reforms was stories of ‘progress’ in combination
with stories of ‘control’ and helplessness’.


Last updated on 2020-26-02 at 07:31