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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

Analyzing the Current Condition and Issues of a Social Welfare State
"Case Study: Economy and Society in the Nordic Countries"

Mr.Masayuki Terada
2nd year Student at The Okuma School of Public Management

Most of Japanese people may imagine such as social welfare, social security, and the Nobel Prize from a term "Northern Europe". Northern Europe feels very far away to us Japanese, but the Nordic countries may actually be surprisingly familiar to us. For example, both IKEA, a company which is famous as the world's largest furniture chain, and H&M, a manufacturer of apparel which is a hot topic in Japan, are corporations based in Northern Europe. The Nordic countries are a high-level welfare state with well-functioning systems for pensions, medical insurance, unemployment/hiring, support for the elderly, and education. Northern Europe can introduce much to Japan in such areas. In particular, due to a decreased birth rate and an aging population, there has recently been rapid growth in interest towards the systems that establish the Nordic countries as advanced welfare nations.

In this lecture, an economic perspective is used to analyze and evaluate the actual social welfare systems and policies of the Nordic countries (particularly Sweden). In the first half of the lecture, students study the economic framework necessary for the evaluation of social welfare systems. In the second half of the lecture, this framework is used as a base for specific examination of systems and policies related to areas such as income security, pensions, medicine, education, support for the elderly, and support for children/families in the Nordic countries. To give an example using the pension system, in Sweden a problem has occurred known as "system free-riding". This refers to the use of tax revenue to cover the basic pension portion. This lecture evaluates topics such as the measures employed to prevent this kind of "free-riding".

The lecture is taught by Professor Fukushima, who finished his Ph.D degree in the science of economics in Sweden and lived in Sweden for approximately 10 years. Presently, he visits Sweden several times a year in order to conduct research. One of the reasons that this lecture is so appealing is that Professor Fukushima has entered deeply into Swedish society and used his solid analytical skills to evaluate the true form of welfare society. Another appealing aspect of this lecture is the occasional opportunity to hear Professor Fukushima relate some of his actual experiences in Sweden.

I dicided to take this lecture due to my personal interests about social welfare states. Through this lecture, I strongly feel that I have the opportunity to gain a deep understanding with positive and negative points of policies respectively various policies enacted in social welfares states, as well as to consider the proper form of welfare in Japan.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)