A majority accept multiple welfare providers


There is a predominantly positive attitude among Swedes to non-profit or commercial welfare providers. In total almost half think that other providers should be allowed to offer welfare services, while just a third are against. This is shown by an attitude survey conducted by CRS at Uppsala University, commissioned by the Church of Sweden. 

The quality of the welfare services and different providers' suitability for engaging in such activities is an issue that has caused heated public debate.

– The readjustment of the entire Swedish society with an increased element of private providers offering welfare services, at the same time as we are being affected by the economic crisis in Europe makes this an interesting area of research", says Anders Bäckström, Senior Professor at the Religion and Society Research Centre, who is responsible for the study.

The survey includes responses from 3,111 Swedes between the ages of 18-80 and was conducted in October 2012.

The study which is being presented in the report "The Church of Sweden and Welfare – A Study of Attitudes", shows that Swedes are predominantly positive to non-profit, or commercial providers offering welfare services. In particular if they are aimed at adults who do not have an active working life; for example the homeless, the unemployed, the sick and the elderly.

A total of 48 percent think that other providers should be allowed to provide welfare services, while just 33 percent are against. Highly educated people are more positive than less educated and the levels are roughly the same for all providers. When questions were asked about religiously-run schools and nursing homes a more unexpected result emerged, however:

– The attitude towards religiously-run schools is negative, but it is easy to imagine that the church could operate homes for the elderly. This shows that there is considerable tension regarding the issue of religion and welfare in our society. The basic view is that society should be responsible for schools since religion may contribute to creating tension in society", says Anders Bäckström. This is in line with the neutral state.

The positive attitude to welfare services is based on the idea of charity and the study supports previous research that shows that the Church of Sweden is perceived as a source of cultural identity and contributes to feelings of belonging, regardless of the individual’s religious involvement, and there is also trust that welfare services are provided in a professional manner.

The alternative providers are primarily regarded as complementary to the Swedish model with the local councils, county councils and the state as providers.

– But we can establish that as many as 25 percent are positive to all forms of alternative welfare services”, says Miriam Hollmer, researcher.

– We will continue to examine these issues within the scope of the Impact Programme’s theme: Welfare Models – Organisation and Values. These are issues of increasing importance not least because of the economic crisis in Europe and the growing discussions for and against religious elements in society”, says Anders Bäckström.


News from 2013