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Reconciling welfare policy and sustainability transition – A case study of the Finnish welfare state

Paula Saikkonen, Ilmari Ilmakunnas


The paper investigates the capacity of welfare policies to support sustainability transitions. Welfare policy involves the discussion on public and private responsibilities and choices in public spending. The Finnish government's decision to turn Finland into a carbon neutral welfare society by 2035 is interpreted as a possible sustainability transition. The government launched a social security reform at the same time as the carbon neutrality target was announced. It was assumed that one of the major reforms would be utilised to achieve the carbon neutrality target.  According to our analysis, the Finnish government showed strong political will for sustainability transition. However, one of its major reforms was not utilised to create policies to support the shift towards a carbon neutral welfare society.