Migration as a challenge to the Scandinavian welfare state

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Author: Alexander Cherkasov

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2023-2-69-92

Keywords: welfare state; migration; social rights; universalism; egalitarian values; gender equality; labour market; civil integration


The social-democratic model of social security in Scandinavian countries is aimed at providing the population with broad social rights and is based on an active redistributive policy. This policy is based on the principle of social solidarity, which implies the participation in financing the social protection system, to one degree or another, by all citizens, who make contributions in proportion to their capabilities. Almost any person, including a migrant legally residing in one of these countries, can count on social protection. In the context of globalization, the financial crisis, and significant demographic changes, the most important of which is the aging of the population, the Scandinavian welfare state faces a number of considerable problems. One of these is the expanding flow of migrants, which increases the ethnic heterogeneity of society. It is not easy for newly arrived migrants to succeed in the labor market. They face a kind of “protective barrier” in an economy based primarily on knowledge, where the use of cheap labor has become unprofitable. Migration also puts significant pressure on Scandinavian pension systems, as migrants often do not generate enough taxable income to cover their future pensions. Considering migration as the most important challenge to the welfare state and its values, the Scandinavian countries are tightening the rules for accepting migrants and their subsequent stay on their territory. An “activation policy” is being pursued, based on the introduction of a principle of active citizenship and a greater linkage of human well-being to specific work activities. There is a kind of “contractualization” of social relations going on, whereby certain benefits are provided to individuals only in exchange for their fulfillment of certain clearly fixed conditions. This raises the question of the need to revise the policy of multiculturalism and to move towards civil integration aimed at developing the functional autonomy of migrants and their resilience in the face of various social risks.

About the author: Alexander Cherkasov – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Associate Professor, Chief Research Fellow, Human Rights Department, Institute of State and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Cherkasov A. (2023) Migratsiya kak vyzov skandinavskomu gosudarstvu vseobshchego blagodenstviya [Migration as a challenge to the Scandinavian welfare state]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe oboztenie, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 69–92. (In Russian).


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