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The legal challenge of an ageing population - is the Nordic Welfare Model sustainable?

Conference contribution
Authors Eva-Maria Svensson
Sara Stendahl
Pernilla Rendahl
Thomas Erhag
Otto Swedrup
Published in Conference: GLOBAL CHALLENGES – NORDIC EXPERIENCES Theme: The making and circulation of Nordic models. Oslo, 20-21 March 2017
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Law
Centre for Ageing and Health (Agecap)
Language en
Keywords Nordic welfare model, ageing, sustainability
Subject categories Law


The aim with this paper is to provide a basis for a discussion on whether it is possible, and if so, how, to legally safeguard a sustainable society based on the ideals of the Nordic welfare model challenged by an ageing population? The ‘ageing population’ is one of today’s repeatedly addressed urgent challenges. A fourth of the population will be over 65 years old in 2050, according to the prognosis made by The Public Health Agency of Sweden.1 As noted in Horizon 2020, the number of people in the EU aged over 65 will have grown by 70% by 2050.2 At the same time however, immigration rejuvenates the Swedish population.3 Older persons are as well as refugees and internally displaced persons and migrants identified as vulnerable and as people who must be empowered in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.4 The third goal is there to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The Long-Term Survey of the Swedish Economy 2015 declares that the demographic changes (increased number of older and foreign-born people) will challenge the publicly financed welfare systems and the possibilities to reach political goals of redistribution.5 With an ageing population and high degree of immigration, to increase the amount work by these two groups (immigrants and elderly peoples) is consequently supposed to be the most interesting alternative to maintain the level of employment, according to the Swedish Long-Term Survey.7 The changed age structure will impact the organization of the society and the welfare state. The costs for elderly care will rise, put additional stress on the public budget and make the political and financial systems more vulnerable. 8 There are already challenges caused by e.g. globalisation on the financial systems. An ageing population is a challenge for the financing of the future public sector.

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