NPM i välfärdsstaten: hotas universalismen?


  • Paula Blomqvist


The impact of NPM within the social services has come to be manifested chiefly through ideas about marketization, or the creation of market-like arrangements within their provision. The introduction of market mechanisms into systems of service provision has been promoted by reforms like purchaser/provider splits or contracting and choice, which implies that public and private providers compete for public funding by appealing to welfare service users. By linking the distribution of funds within the system to provider performance of various kinds, new economic incentives have been introduced into service provision in areas like primary education, pre-schooling and health- and elder care. In this paper, I pose the question how such reforms have affected the universal character of such services in Sweden. I analyze the developments in this regard through four dimensions of the concept of universalism: inclusion, financing, provision and benefits. The results indicate that the introduction of NPM reforms in Swedish welfare services have weakened their universalistic character.