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163 Working Paper

The Nordic Path of Spain's Mediterranean Welfare

2008 – Luis Moreno


Despite the fact that the Nordic welfare model has become less exceptional in recent times, it con- tinues to offer numerous examples for "best practices" in social policy provision, together with a high degree of welfare political legitimacy. This paper explores Nordic "benchmarking" as refer- ence to the case of welfare development in Spain. In the general process of convergence of the European welfare states towards the middle, the Spanish case stands out as the one Mediterra- nean EU country which has gone further in incorporating inputs and traits of the social- democratic Nordic world of welfare capitalism. While Spain's welfare state has become more lib- eral in macroeconomic policies, and social policymaking has followed a pattern of universaliza- tion of welfare entitlements and provision, there has been a detachment from the Bismarckian principle of income maintenance. This paper deals with Spain's evolution in two main areas, which have distinctively characterized Nordic welfare in contemporary times: (1) fiscal resources, and (2) female employment. The analytical purpose of the first section is to ponder the claim as to whether or not Spanish welfare has intensified a socioeconomic path in the direction of the Nor- dic model. Subsequently, Spain's societal changes and welfare reforms are reviewed with relation to the two areas identified as having the greatest impact in the future evolution of Spain's wel- fare: conciliation of work and family life, and the territorial politics of welfare provision. Con- cluding remarks speculate on the hypothesis that countries with fragmented political institutions and a decentralized state organization, such as Spain, may move faster and be more responsive in the development of new welfare polices. Likewise, the emergence of gender and family issues.