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Roger Hildingsson, photo.

Roger Hildingsson


Roger Hildingsson, photo.

The green economy and the Nordic welfare state : Reconceptualizing green economy narratives from a Nordic perspective


  • Anton Olsson
  • Roger Hildingsson
  • Jamil Khan

Summary, in English

The green economy with its aim to combine ecological and economic objectives has gained in both significance and political contestation in recent years. In this working paper for the NOWAGG project we revisit the literature on the green economy to understand its implications from a Nordic perspective. Our ambition is to improve the conceptualization of different approaches to green the economy by subjecting them to often overlooked aspects relevant to the Nordic welfare states, including dimensions of innovation as well as social welfare. By conducting a literature review and making use of narrative policy analysis we demonstrate that a binary division, common in the academic literature and policy debate, is insufficient to grasp the nuances of the green economy. We arrive in the finding that not only ‘green growth’ and ‘beyond growth’ narratives are prevalent in academic and policy literature but also a reformist narrative in-between these two; what we refer to as a ‘transformative green economy’ narrative.
This is of importance for the Nordic welfare state which arguably have the potential to incorporate a ‘third way’ to sustainable development and for greening the economy. Building on this insight and Nordic welfare state literature we suggest a conceptual framework for the economy of the green Nordic welfare state, a revised reformist narrative on the green economy. Empirically, however, the welfare states are confronted by numerous challenges and ongoing liberal transformations. Thus, it remains for future studies to conclude which green economy path the Nordic states will take and how that will affect the prospects for achieving inclusive, long-term welfare while respecting ecological limits.


  • Department of Political Science
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Environmental and Energy Systems Studies
  • Transport and Roads

Publishing year








Document type



Miljö- och energisystem, LTH, Lunds universitet


  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
  • Environmental Engineering




  • New Nordic Ways to Green Growth


  • ISBN: 978-91-86961-39-8