Work, Oil and Welfare describes the Norwegian welfare state, which is founded on a strong work ethic and egalitarianism and boosted by the oil revenue from the North Sea. This welfare state is a unique and manifold construction that combines extensive labour market participation, public protection against social risks, public delivery of municipal health and social services, an important place reserved for individual and family responsibilities and a limited role for the voluntary sector.
The authors describe the historical development of the Norwegian welfare state and systematically compare its different sectors with the counterparts found in other Scandinavian and European nations. But there are some inherent dilemmas: How can equality and efficiency be reconciled? Can poverty be eradicated without undermining the work ethic and incentives to work? Can extensive oil revenue be spent to expand public health and welfare services without undermining the health of the Norwegian economy? What about the challenges of globalization, immigration, the aging population, and neo-liberalism to egalitarianism and universal social benefits?
The authors, Knut Halvorsen and Steinar Stjernø, are professors of social policy at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Oslo University College. Both have published a large number of books, reports and articles on comparative social policy, labour market issues, poverty, trust and solidarity.