Sunday, January 06, 2008

Norwegian welfare state after World War II

It is a pleasure for me to write a paper about Norwegian welfare state. As a foreigner from Asian country married with Norwegian man, I have been living in Norway almost 7 years . I have had some real experiences in getting a product of welfare state in case of giving birth : some social benefits from Norwegian public authorities,. The social benefit which inhabitants in Norway get from the state. They have rights “from the cradle to the grave”. From the day they were born, until they died; from the birth : Fødselspenger, Engangsstønad ved fødsel, Kontantstøtte, Barnetrygd, Stønader til enslige forsørgere, the working life : Dagpenger, Yrkesrettet attføring the sickness : Sykepenger, Rehabiliteringspenger, Hjelpestønad, grunnstønad, the aging : Alderspensjon, Uføreordningen, the death : Stønader ved dødsfall. Including to Free school –health care and housing financial support, this is to say Norwegian welfare state has been made to take care of all the inhabitants of the nation to have a good standard of living. The United Nations has ranked the country as the best place in the world to live. Norwegian welfare state just like Rom was not built by it self. Norwegian welfare state was built up in many years ago.:
- 1880-1935 : the founding years of the welfare state, the social service state
- 1935-1978 : the golden year of the welfare state
- 1950s-1960s : the welfare state society
- 1980s-1990s : the challenging years of the welfare state
The era of the ”social state”: 1890-1945
1890-1920 : Establishment (first initiatives)
1920-1935 : Stagnation: 1920-1935
1935-1940 :New emphasis on social security as a public task
The era of the welfare state:
The phase of expansion: 1945-1966
The phase of consolidation: 1967-1981
New challenges and pressure against established welfare institutions: the 1980s and 1990s

This paper will be focused to the Norwegian welfare state after World War II (1945)
by looking into the matter of the distinctive characteristics of the Norwegian welfare state model. Including to discussing the driving forces and the conditions leading to Norway’s development into a welfare state. It is very interesting because the condition of the war was a good influence to Norwegian welfare state. The model was related to politics system, Social democratic by capability leader. People had a part in development with strong feeling of egalitarianism, solidarity, belief in welfare “free from want”

The distinctive characteristics of the Norwegian welfare state model
Welfare services are produced and paid for by the public authorities :
Norway is characterized by having a relatively large public sector. This is due to after World War II development of a welfare state, a policy put forward. As the functional scope of the welfare state has increased, the provision of welfare services have been connected to processes of decentralization from central to local levels of government. Decentralization is a method for a social equality and a fair distribution of costs and benefits. Norway is a large and sparsely populated country. Norwegian model of local government represents two equally important dimensions: Local Government being both a vital service provider and an important local democratic institution. This is to say that decentralization to local government and local democratic institution is one of the main measures of the Norwegian Welfare State. Local municipal welfare has been a central element in Norwegian welfare state such as social benefits, almost all of the social benefits have been provided by the public authorities after the war. The system gradually expanded with one benefit after another. Tax-based was principle system.

Equality and the regions :
Equality between the different regions, In 1952 the first major initiative was the Northern Norway Plan. A development bank of north of Norway was created. A company’s own investments in the area were tax-deductible. There were some of improvement communications, expanding power supplies and development vocational training. The region’s share of the national product increased slightly. Many new jobs in both industry and services were created. The contemporary view that the Northern Norway Plan had been a success was important for the continuation of regional policy at the beginning for the 1960s. The equalization at the regional level was extended by using tax equalization system (Denters, Bas and Lawrence E. Rose : 1995)

Universality :
Free and equal services to all citizens irrespective of private fortune, the basis of Social benefits moved to institutionally provision of services. Universal benefits should be for all to get the certain standard conditions; in 1958 child allowance, in 1961 disability allowance and rehabilitation support, in1965 single mothers’ benefits. In 1957 the principle of universality was carried through when health insurance was made obligatory. In 1960 the work related benefits. In 1971 a new administrative system “Folketrygden” was set up. All above mentioned benefit were co-ordinated through this system.

Full employment :
“Work for everyone, increased production and a fair distribution of the production result were the most important goals.” and “It shall be the duty of the state authorities to create conditions which ensure that every able-bodie person can earn a living through his labour”(constitutional amendment 1954) Ways to achieve full employment were development of new industries, active of regional policy. The equalization of the incomes, in 1935-1950 the gap was narrowed between the incomes of industrial workers and white-collar worker. The state bought industries, public utility involvement that had been privately owned before.

Social equality :
Social equality is a social of affairs in which certain different people have the same status in a certain respect, at the very least in voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, the extent of property rights as well as the access to education, health care and other social securities.
There are different forms of equality, depending on the persons and social situations in question. For example, one may consider equality of the sexes opportunities for employment people in question are men and women (contrasted) and the social situation is the search for a job. As another example, equal opportunity refers to the idea that all people should start out in life from the same platform (i.e. all should have equal opportunities in life, regardless of where they were born or who their parents were)
Social security :
Social security primarily refers to social welfare service concerned with social protection, or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment, families with children and others. Although some publications use the terms "social security" and "social protection" interchangeably, social security is used both more narrowly (to refer only to schemes with the formal title of 'social security')and more widely (referring to many kinds of social welfare scheme). Social security may refer to
social insurance, where people receive benefits or services in recognition of contributions to an insurance scheme. These services typically include provision for retirement pensions, disability insurance, survivor benefits and unemployment insurance.
income maintenance—mainly the distribution of cash in the event of interruption of employment, including retirement, disability and unemployment
services provided by administrations responsible for social security. In different countries this may include medical care, aspects of social work and even industrial relations.
More rarely, the term is also used to refer to basic security, a term roughly equivalent to access to basic necessities—things such as food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care. Social security in Norway was found
1946: Family allowances
1957: Health insurance becomes obligatory and universal
1959: means tested pension for old people was replaced by universal pension (1967: new pension reform: a minimum pension is guaranteed to all and in addition a sum is given that reflects the wage level during professional life
1959: universal unemployment benefit
1961: allowances for disability and rehabilitation
1965: subsidies for widows and single mothers (from 1981: subsidies also for single fathers)
1967: all the different subsidies and allowances are assembled in one administrative body, the Folketrygd (the National insurance)

Housing :
Housing was one of the states’ priorities after the war. In 1940s-1950s Co-operative housing was given a high priority by the authorities. The National Housing Bank was set up in 1946. It was the most important instrument in the government’s policy of building new houses. The bank gave cheap loans with long repayment terms. Housing. A lot of the house building was financed by the state .By 1985 the National Housing Bank had financed two thirds of all the houses built in Norway after the war.

Education :
Education was a priority for the authorities after the war. In 1944-1948 the large number of children was born and need places in the primary schools in the 1950s and the university and colleges in 1960s. Urbanization increased the need for new school building. The society’s need for a well-education labour caused to the education explosion. Both of private and public need more specialist skills. In 1947 the state set up the department that provided cheap loans for pupils in compulsory school and for students in university or college. Compulsory school was increased from 7 years to 9 years after 1960 and no school fees. The state got three new university Bergen 1946, Trondheim and Tromsø in 1968. Kristiansand, Molde and Stavanger got regional colleges of higher education. Norway developed the decentralized higher education in the aspect of educational equality and also had a gender dimension.

Health and care :
In 1957 health insurance was made obligatory. In 1960s was a number of hospital beds, the growth number of doctors per hospital, the high quality of medical services. In 1969 new hospital law according to which hospitals are run by the county but mainly financed via the state budget. Nursing homes for the old: mainly run by the municipalities

The driving forces and the conditions leading to Norway’s development into a welfare state.
World War II (1940-1945) German soldiers invaded Norway on 9th April 1940 and on 8th May 1945, Germany surrendered and Norway was a free country. Most people were very optimistic despite the war had destroyed both buildings and economy. Most goods were in short supply and many people experienced a difficult time. The social security system was in need to reform. People were eager to play a part in Norway’s reconstruction. The general idea was that a completely new start had to be made; society and the economy had to be restructured to assure peace, justice and security in the future. The pressure for reform were deep currents of strong social egalitarianism. Terms such as equality and equal worth became important to the people. The total influence of social democratic system by labour party’s policies: such as the industrialization increased a new places to work, in the view of full employment had made economic strength by Marshall plan which was offered by USA the ambitious programmes for house building, education, social security, welfare economic, and the reduction of different between the regions. Regional policy has therefore always been an important factor in Norwegian politics. To ensure between different parts of the country, development and settlement in rural areas, especially directed towards northern Norway. The far distances between the north and the south of the country constitute a special challenge for regional policy. Due to the revenues from its North Sea oil fields, Norway, which had adopted a Scandinavian welfare state model before the resource was exploited, has been able to bring its system of social organization to the highest level of development yet achieved in the world. It is more accurate to say the welfare state development in Norway as a continuous process.

The necessary conditions leading to Norway’s development can also be distinguised:
Crises and war : The war was a motivating force for the Welfare State. Created stronger national solidarity, Willingness of political consensus
Social democracy : Social democracy is a political ideology that emerged in the late 19th century out of the socialist movement. Unlike socialism in the Marxist sense, which aims to replace the capitalist system entirely, social democracy aims to reform capitalism in order to remove its perceived injustices[citation needed]. Social democracy once meant socialism in the strict sense achieved by democratic means. This definition rather than the modern one still appears in many dictionaries. Social democrats share many views with democratic socialists. presented Norwegian labour party.

Economic growth :Economic growth : Form 1949 to 1973 Norway had the longest continous period of growth in modern history. This led to market improvements and increased material well-being.

Full employment : Massive build up of infrastructure and industry gave Norway many new places to work.

According to the history of Norway, I learn that the development of welfare state in Norway lead to understand Norwegian society in the aspect of social equality. Norway became a welfare society in the 1950s and 1960s. The principle of the welfare benefit and security for all and even more for social equality in a whole country. But do not forget that there was a welfare authority before there is a welfare state. The basic ideas for this were already in place before the World War II. This is to say long term state policy in different measures for Norwegian Welfare State.