Lessons for the Nordic welfare states from the Covid19-pandemic

The Nordic countries share deep societal, cultural and institutional similarities with a generous social security system, active labor market policy, high labor market participation and high social mobility. During the pandemic the welfare state model was however put to a test, challenging its social and economic resilience. Across all of the Nordic welfare states the institutions are paramount to continuously sustain vital societal functions, and despite the many similarities between the countries there are important differences in the policies implemented to deal with the pandemic (school closures, design of wage compensation schemes etc.). The implemented policies and institutional differences may have implications for the resilience of the welfare state when put to the test such as during a global pandemic.

The Nordic countries have been pioneering the use of administrative micro data in social science research. Compared to other data sources, administrative data have a number of strengths: no attrition, high reliability, large sample sizes, and unique identifiers to link numerous data sources as well as to follow individuals and firms longitudinally. For comparative studies however, several barriers must be overcome, and unsurprisingly the use of administrative data for cross-country studies is scarce. The ambition of this research project is to overcome these obstacles and establish a comprehensive collaboration for Nordic comparative micro data research.

The project will consist of three work-packages, through which we aim to make important contributions to the research on the social gradient in schooling and youth mental health, unemployment hysteresis and the effects of labor market institutions, and on optimal design of social insurance.

We will also provide high quality descriptive analysis of the consequences of the Covid19 pandemic in the Nordic countries, which we believe will improve our understanding of the crisis as well as generate new hypotheses for future research. The project will provide credible evidence to improve foundation for policy design in the Nordic countries during future crises.

Finally, the project paves the way for an ambitious comparative research agenda building on combining registry micro data for the Nordic countries, and provides documentation and codes to spur future comparative research.