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Welfare resilience in crises in the Nordic countries

The financial crisis, pandemic, war, environmental and climate threats of recent years show that the global risk scenario can evolve rapidly and that the threats to our societies are complex. Strengthening citizens’ conditions for good health is central to coping with future crises. At the same time, there are major challenges in the health and medical care of the welfare sectors. 

The demand for welfare services, with a focus on health and medical care, is growing at a pace that makes the labour force insufficient. Health and medical care is also not equal and there are regional variations in access to care and differences between women and men’s consumption of care. The challenges of increasing life expectancy and an ageing population can be found throughout the Nordic Region.

Alongside the need for new recruitment, there are also major challenges in creating the conditions for those already working in the health sector to stay. Many occupations in the health sector are female-dominated, ethnic minority backgrounds are common, wages are generally low (compared to male-dominated welfare occupations with similar education and skills requirements) and part-time work is more common than in other welfare occupations.

About the project

In order to stimulate a Nordic discussion on welfare resilience, the Nordic Council of Ministers has initiated this project, which is carried out by NIKK. The project has a cross-cutting approach: the knowledge produced is relevant to several sectors within Nordic co-operation and therefore contributes to strengthened collaboration between both policy areas and actors active within them, as well as between researchers and other experts.

The project will result in:

  • A publication of texts submitted through an open call for proposals.
  • A seminar

The goal of the project is to contribute knowledge to better understand and analyse challenges and opportunities for making decisions that strengthen preparedness for crises and increase the resilience of welfare in the Nordic region with a focus on health and medical care from a gender perspective.

Publication with open call for proposals

Lessons from the pandemic show that crisis management went hand in hand with knowledge development. Research therefore plays an important role in improving the conditions for welfare resilience. How can the Nordic countries develop welfare and welfare services based on important needs both today and in the future? These are complex issues that need to be analysed from several different perspectives. The project will therefore bring together experts from different parts of the Nordic Region. In a joint publication, they will highlight aspects of health and medical care in the welfare sector in the Nordic Region in order to prepare for the future. To this end, the project will bring together experts from different parts of the Nordic Region to contribute to a joint publication highlighting aspects of welfare resilience in the Nordic region, with a focus on health and medical care, for good future preparedness.

In order to identify relevant perspectives, knowledge and research environments in the Nordic region, an open call for proposals to participate with an exploratory text, an essay, is being conducted. The call is aimed at researchers with a doctoral degree and doctoral students who are active in the Nordic region.

The task of writing an essay is paid and the accepted writers will be invited to a workshop to start up the writing process, exchange knowledge, strengthen the Nordic network and enable synergies between the different texts.

Cross-cutting approaches and content themes

As the overall focus of the project is on future crisis scenarios, the essays will be exploratory in nature, but drawing on research-based knowledge.Three intersecting starting points will form the framework for each essay. They will explore (1) resilience and preparedness in health and medical care in the welfare sector of the Nordic region (2) in future crisis scenarios (3) from a gender perspective.

With this as a common framework, the aim is for each essay to contribute new and urgent perspectives within one or more thematic areas. Examples of relevant thematic areas are the organisation and governance of health and medical care, with related issues such as the different principles of resource allocation and organisation, the systems of public and private care, and the different access of citizens to health and medical care, as well as its quality. Thematic areas can also deal with health and medical care occupations, professions and skills supply with associated questions about, for example, the organisation, location, management and size of the education system, including research, in order to supply the different parts of the sector with the right and sufficient skills where the needs exist. This may also involve questions about the value of knowledge and the conditions for learning and development, for example of specialised skills, within the sector.  Other thematic areas may include working conditions and work environment in the sector, where issues such as requirements for availability, opportunities and limitations for full and part-time work, as well as issues of hierarchies in the sector and risks of exposure to harassment may be relevant.

These thematic areas are partly overlapping and other related themes may also be relevant, as long as they are clearly based on the three cross-cutting approaches. More information will be provided in the upcoming call for proposals in June, 2024. If you have any questions before then, you are welcome to contact:

Preliminary timetable (may be adjusted)


  • June: Open call for proposals
  • August: Deadline for proposals
  • September: Decision on accepted proposals
  • November: Joint workshop with the researchers


  • Writing with the support of editors
  • End of the year: Finalise the publication
  • Closing seminar with dialogue between some of the researchers involved and other relevant stakeholders.

Target group

The project’s target group is a broad range of politicians and civil servants in the Nordic Region who are responsible for developing policy in the field of welfare, as well as researchers. This includes people working at national level as well as within Nordic co-operation.

Project timespan
2024 – 2025

Commissioned by
Nordiska ministerrådet

Angelica Simonsson

1 000 000 DKK

Cooperation partners
Nordic researchers and other experts and the social and gender equality sectors of the Nordic Council of Ministers