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Two cases of financial crisis and pension reform. A comparison between the Swedish case in the 1990s and the Spanish case in 2007-2011

Luis Buendia
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Luis Buendia
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Open Panel

Abstract

Yet not simultaneously, Sweden and Spain went through a similar process of formation of a speculative bubble, its bursting and then a deep crisis which offered an alibi to implement unpopular reforms including severe welfare state cuts. In this paper we will make a comparison of both cases from a political-economy point of view. We will thus make an account of both processes putting them in relation to the fall of the profit rate in the 1970s and the offensive that capital started after that. Organised working class’ resistance capacity will be also analyzed making a connection between its erosion and the distributive outcomes that this process led to. We will finally focus in the reform of a major component of social wage, namely, old-age pensions, comparing the changes introduced in the Swedish system with those in Spain and trying to offer an explanation of the difference between both according to, among others, the factors linked to the relative labour strength and their resistance capacity, which will be necessarily connected to the accumulation pattern and the changes that it brought into the production process, the ideological transformation of Social-democratic parties and the de-legitimation of traditional labour parties and unions.