Lobbying for profits
If a social scientific observer of the mid-1980s had been presented with a line-up of rich Western countries – say Germany, Sweden, the UK, France, the US – and asked to guess which of these countries that would later experience a rapid expansion of for-profit providers of health care, elderly care and education, few would probably have opted for Sweden. And yet, three decades later, Sweden has in fact experienced an astonishingly fast growth of for-profit providers of care and services. This in spite of the fact that public support for such providers remains low and that increasing political conflicts have been registered, not least as a result of failing school results, unanticipated consequences of privatization of welfare services and public scandals involving private enterprises in the welfare sector.
In the paper Lobbying for profits: Private companies and the privatization of the welfare state in Sweden the authors Stefan Svallfors and Anna Tyllström try to analyze the privatization of the Swedish welfare state and the history of for-profit welfare provision in Sweden, from the budding experiences in the early 1980s to the current situation.
By studying the private welfare companies and their associations and describing the broad array of activities that they pursue, activities that have so far been quite successful in staving off challenges to the for-profit sector in welfare policy delivery, they contribute to the understanding of political-economic changes in Sweden in recent years.