Patterns of Institutional Change in Minimum Income Protection in Sweden and Germany

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Germany is generally regarded as a case of qualitative “change” in minimum income protection (MIP) schemes, while Sweden is perceived as one of institutional “inertia”.This paper seeks to qualify this view by embedding developments in MIP in wider policy and governance trends. Empirically, it is based on document analysis and
qualitative expert interviews in the two countries. Theoretically, the paper applies recent institutional approaches that address patterns of change in more complex ways. In Sweden, an exclusive focus on formal continuity regarding social assistance would
disguise its change in function from temporary security system of last resort into one that permanently provides income protection when neighboring policy fields,unemployment and sickness insurance, are downsized. Conversely, in Germany a merger of social assistance and unemployment assistance took place. Yet an exclusive
focus on the Hartz reforms would downplay the degree of continuity that nevertheless exists in the unemployment insurance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-179
JournalJournal of International and Comparative Social Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Work


  • Incremental institutional change
  • minimum income protection
  • social assistance
  • welfare reforms
  • Sweden
  • Germany


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