Neo-liberalism and the Nordic welfare model: a study of the Liberal Alliance and ideological adaptation in Denmark

  • Troels Fage Hedegaard Aalborg University
Keywords: neo-liberalism, liberalism, welfare, tax, Nordic, ideological morphology


This article explores whether and how the neo-liberal ideology has adapted to the Nordic welfare model by studying the attitudes of voters and grass-roots members of the Danish party Liberal Alliance towards the welfare state. This inquiry into one of the key issues for the neo-liberal ideology is inspired by theory on how an ideology will adapt to its context. The expectation outlined in the article is for the neo-liberals of this party to favour features that make the Nordic welfare model distinctive – extensive governmental responsibility, especially for children and the elderly, and a universalistic approach to providing welfare. I have explored this question using a mixed-methods approach, where I analyse a survey of voters and interviews with grass-roots members of the party. Combined this shows that the neo-liberals in Liberal Alliance do support a role for the welfare state that extends beyond a minimum welfare state, especially for the care of children, but they view old age and retirement mostly as a problem each individual must deal with. Regarding the universalistic approach to providing welfare, the neo-liberals seem torn between two different tendencies, one being a perception of a fair way to provide welfare and the other the idea of a selective welfare state as a neo-liberal core idea, which leads to ambivalent attitudes. I argue that this results in a form of the neo-liberal ideology that has adapted to the Nordic welfare model.

Author Biography

Troels Fage Hedegaard, Aalborg University
Troels Fage Hedegaard
 Post.doc / Research Assistant

Department of Political Science
Frederikskaj 10
Building: B, Room: 3 etage
2450 København SV, DK


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How to Cite
Hedegaard, T. F. (2016). Neo-liberalism and the Nordic welfare model: a study of the Liberal Alliance and ideological adaptation in Denmark. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 7.