기조강연.pdf

<기조강연>
The Social Democratic Model of Society
What is it? Why does it work?
What Lessons Can Korea Draw?

PROF. Sven Steinmo


(Chair in Political Economy and Public Policy European University Institute, Colorado university)
Lecture presented to the Korean Social Policy Association Annual Conference
“Toward a New Paradigm of Korean Social Policy”


Seoul, Korea October 12‐13. 2012


What is the Social Democratic model of society?
The label “Social Democratic” is sometimes used to identify a large assortment
of polities and left political parties. In my view, this is a misuse of the label
which leads to some rather fundamental misunderstandings about Social Democratic
systems in practice.
The Social Democratic model of society, as I define it, contains three main
commitments.2) The first aims to provide all people in society, regardless of their
background, with a set of general social rights to certain kinds of service and
economic support.3) Such programmes are not targeted on specific vulnerable groups
or distinct minorities in society but cater to “all” or very large segments of the
population (Rothstein & Uslaner 2005). The classical “universal programmes” such
as health care, universal child allowances, free public education, elderly care, and
very broadly based tax systems, are examples of this approach. It is important to
understand that these universalistic polices are very different from both the
targeted tax and social policies more typically found in the United Kingdom
and the United States, and are also quite different from the wage based
social insurance systems typically found in many European welfare states.
These universalist policies are based on the idea that everyone should pay and
everyone should benefit as equally as possible, rather than the ideas that the state
should compensate losers and punish winners. The reality, then, is that the emphasis
in this type of welfare state is on social services, not targeted cash benefits.
The second commitment in Social Democratic politics can be described as an
ambition to tame, but not replace nor control, the market economy. To the
surprise of many who do not know these systems, Social Democratic polities are
remarkably pro‐market. These systems, however, combine a positive attitude toward
free‐trade, free labour markets and economic competition, with a realization that
a well running market economy demands a wide range of public regulations to
function properly. Social Democracy’s goals are thus obviously different from those
of state‐socialism (or communism). But more interestingly, Social Democratic policies
are also quite distinct from populist/leftist policies regularly witnessed across the
twentieth century which are motivated by a desire to redistribute income and
wealth directly from one class to another.
From its beginning, typical Social Democratic regulations were directed mostly
towards the labour market (the eight‐hour working day, pensions, unemployment
insurance, work safety, child labour laws, union rights) and were later expanded to
many other areas such as environmental protection, gender equality and regulation of

financial markets. In contrast to neo‐liberalism, Social Democracy does not believe
that markets have the capacity to serve “the common good” if left unregulated. In
contrast to populism, Social Democracy does not aim to directly redistribute from
the rich to the poor. While it would be incorrect to say that Social Democracies
have no targeted social welfare policies directly focusing public spending on the
poorest and most vulnerable in society, to surprise of many, classical Social
Democratic countries spend relatively less on targeted poor relief and direct cash
transfers to the poor than do many other advanced welfare states.
The following figure gives an example of this. Here we see public social
spending on “families” in several OECD nations. Notice that the classical Social
Democratic systems are among the largest spenders here, but not the highest.
More significantly, however, note that the levels of direct cash transfers to families
is lower in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, for example, even though these countries
give a universal cash payment to all families with children. Where they are ‘big
spenders,’ on the other hand is in terms of services (for child care, early primary
education, etc.).
Figure 1.
Public spending on family benefits in cash, services and tax measures, in per cent of GDP, 2007
Source: OECD, iLibrary, http://www.oecd‐ilibrary.org/social‐issues‐migration‐health/
social‐issues‐key‐tables‐from‐oecd_20743904, downloaded, May 5, 2012

 

 

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