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Nordic countries still best in Europe on welfare, but for how long?

NordForsk, an independent institution dedicated to Nordic cooperation within research and researcher training, today launches two Nordic Centres of Excellence on Welfare research. In the space of five years, the Centres will study the historical evolution of the Nordic welfare model and its ability to adapt to changing external circumstances.

Combining competitiveness and growth with a high level of social services, the so-called Nordic model is attracting international attention. When European leaders gather for the EU Spring Summit on 8 and 9 March 2007, three major welfare reports that all give top marks to the Nordic countries will be presented: the Joint report on Social Protection and Inclusion 2007, the Joint Employment Report 2006 and an Interim report on the new Social Reality of Europe.

However, the Nordic model is under pressure. Against the backdrop of globalisation, European integration, immigration, the ageing society and increased individualisation, many have predicted the death of the Nordic welfare state. There is consequently a need for research in order to assess if the Nordic welfare model can renew itself in the face of global competition.

The two Nordic Centres of Excellence (NCoE) on Welfare launched today are aimed at increasing the quality, efficiency, competitiveness and visibility of Nordic welfare research through enhanced collaboration in the Nordic region. The Nordic countries host several outstanding research groups in the field of welfare, but since these ‘hot spots of research’ are scattered in many countries, their international visibility is often limited. The two new Centres are lead by Pauli Kettunen, Professor at the University of Helsinki and Bjørn Hvinden, Head of Research at NOVA (Norwegian institute for research on welfare and aging).

Bjørn Hvinden comments: “The Nordic welfare model has many facets and the national research environments are small, but through the Nordic Centre of Excellence we build critical mass, gathering the best knowledge and creating valuable synergies”. He adds that “the Nordic Centre of Excellence status is a big inspiration for the researchers involved and acts as a stamp of quality that makes us more attractive to researchers internationally.”

Kristin Oxley | alfa
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