The WEST project examines what we call the ecological dilemma of the Norwegian welfare state with a view to assess the scope for reconciling social, ecological and economic objectives in contemporary welfare policies.
The proposed project is premised on the view that any meaningful definition of welfare state sustainability in the 21st century should include the ecological dimension. This perspective represents a particular challenge for the Norwegian welfare state.
On the one hand, from a cross-national comparative perspective, Norway is characterised by high living standards, relatively low levels of income inequality, and a high degree of social cohesion. These features are supported by generous and inclusive Norwegian welfare policies.
On the other hand, as an affluent society with high levels of material consumption and with state finances and social protection supported by huge past and present revenues from oil and gas production, the country faces a strong moral obligation to reduce its ecological footprint.
WEST addresses three main questions:
- Why is an eco-social transition justified or even a moral obligation in the case of the Norwegian welfare state?
- What is the scope for policy change in an eco-social direction when assessed on the basis of popular attitudes?
- How is the European Union’s European Green Deal strategy and especially the idea of a ‘just transition’ relevant for the Norwegian welfare state? To what extent do they offer useful lessons for future welfare policy choices in Norway?
The project uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods applied to secondary scientific literature, policy documents from government, political parties and interest groups, as well as Norwegian opinion survey data.
Participants at OsloMet
- CICERO - Center for International Climate Research