In comparative social policy studies, Nordic welfare systems are grouped together as belonging to the same welfare model (e.g. Esping-Andersen & Korpi, 1987; Esping-Andersen, 1990; Kangas & Palme, 2005). Nordic welfare systems are known for providing allencompassing coverage of their social security systems. This coverage has traditionally included a combination of basic security and earning-related measures. In addition, the Nordic welfare systems have been characterized by the generosity of the benefits provided, by the high level of effectiveness of their income redistribution policies and by the large development of their social service infrastructures. Apart from a few exceptions (e.g. Saraceno, 2002; Lähteenmäki-Smith, 2005; Scarpa, 2009), comparative social policy studies have nevertheless also implicitly assumed that Nordic welfare systems display these ‘hallmarks’ in a geographically homogeneous manner and that, in these countries, regional variation of living conditions and also in the level of protection from social risks is minimal.
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