Care ‘going market’: Finnish elderly-care policies in transition

  • Anneli Anttonen University of Tampere
  • Liisa Häikiö Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Tampere
Keywords: marketization, elderly care, institutional policy analysis, Finland


The article evaluates marketization and its effects on elderly-care policies in Finland, where the welfare state has been the most important mechanism in mitigating failures caused by the functioning of market. In addition, since the 1960s the public sector has been regarded as the guarantee for citizens' social rights and the common good. Therefore, marketization, denoting to market logics intervened with social-care practices that construct care as a commodity and the individual in need of care as a consumer, is a critical juncture for an evaluation of the underlying pattern change. To evaluate the change this article employs a framework of institutional policy analysis. By focusing on institutional framing of care policies, institutionalized responsibilities, policy discourses, and policy outcomes and by using textual and statistical data, this article aims to reach a detailed but comprehensive picture on marketization and its influence in the Finnish social-care regime. All institutional aspects analysed in the study show a clear transition from universal social policies based on public responsibility to market-friendly policies and the marketization of social care. However, they also imply that marketization is regulated by public authorities. On the basis of these results, we argue that Finnish elderly-care policies is going through a profound change, in magnitude similar to what occurred 30-40 years ago when the politics of universalism was breaking through. The new direction points to the market and a deep-going reform of social-care service provision is taking place, and the earlier state-centred welfare production mode is at least partly withering away. In this respect the pattern of social-care service provision is turning into something else. In all, Finland seems to be approaching the form of a liberal welfare state.

How to Cite
Anttonen, A., & Häikiö, L. (2011). Care ‘going market’: Finnish elderly-care policies in transition. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 2.