Postcode Lottery or Systematic Differences in Norwegian Elder Care Provision?

Christine Thokle Martens


The Nordic welfare states are considered to be universalistic, and to provide generous benefits and services. It is however possible to question whether using aggregate national expenditure data is an appropriate analytical strategy to study social care services dispersion. National equality presupposes centralized schemes executed through national agencies. In the Nordic countries, the municipalities calibrate and provide care services. This article first explores the extent of municipal variation in elder care service provision between Norwegian municipalities. It then asks whether considerations regarding national equality or local autonomy can explain these differences. National equality is operationalized as the state system of monetary transfers to the municipalities, a variable that is exogenous to the municipalities. Local autonomy is operationalized as local party politics. The data are municipal registry data from Statistics Norway. From a regression analysis of data from 2014, the main finding is that the state transfer system is the main variable explaining the current municipal variation in elder care services in Norway. The conclusion is that policies at the national level matter more than local politics when explaining the current differences in service provision between municipalities.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413