Are Scandinavian countries different? A comparison of relative incomes for older people in OECD nations

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Recent research has cast some doubt on the consistency of models that isolate Scandinavian countries as different to other nations in terms of egalitarian welfare states. For example, it has been argued that if occupational welfare polices have their contribution to national welfare better accounted for in comparative models, or if there is a focus on specific aspects of welfare coverage, then Scandinavian welfare states look less different to other European countries. Using case-based methods that try to balance the demand for generalizations and the qualitative integrity of the case, this research examines the specific case of income protection for the older population post-retirement, to see if Scandinavian countries emerge as consistently different when compared with other OECD nations. Scandinavia can be clearly identified in a separate cluster, but it is not alone and other countries also share its similarities. In particular, Scandinavia emerges in a cluster that provides more income replacement and protection for women. In part, this is reinforced by the high rate of labour participation by women in Scandinavian countries. However, there is little evidence of Scandinavian countries retaining noticeable differences and divergence in income protection policies for men.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-130
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Policy & Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2011


  • income inequality
  • older people
  • cluster analysis


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