Rising Inequality in the Egalitarian Nordics

Erling Barth, Karl Ove (Kalle) Moene & Axel West Pedersen

Europe's Income, Wealth, Consumption, and Inequality

Cover of Europe's Income, Wealth, Consumption, and Inequality

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Europe's Income, Wealth, Consumption, and Inequality, 2021.

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197545706.003.0006


The chapter demonstrates that while the Nordic countries remain relatively affluent and egalitarian, inequality of disposable household income has been on the rise over the past 30 years. The increase in income inequality and relative income poverty has been strongest in Sweden and more modest in three other countries. In Sweden and, to a lesser extent, in Finland and Denmark, a reduced role for social transfers among the working age population has contributed to a decline in relative income levels enjoyed by the bottom deciles. Often in the wake of serious macroeconomic downturns, politicians have reduced the generosity of social transfers to improve labour market incentives. Even if these reforms have had the intended effect on employment, the increase in earnings has not been sufficient to replace the loss of social transfers.

Published July 20, 2022 3:07 PM - Last modified July 20, 2022 3:45 PM