What Goes Up: The Genesis and Context of Health Reform in Sweden

Sara M. Glasgow

Throughout the twentieth century, Sweden earned a reputation for a generous, comprehensive welfare system predicated upon collective responsibility. As a consequence, the history of publicly funded health care in Sweden during this time is largely one of growth. Trends in the Swedish political economy since the 1980s, however, have indicated a movement toward market-based reforms. This paper analyzes the context of these reforms and argues that the underlying neoliberal ideology valorizing the market is evident not only in macro-level policies pertaining to the public health finance and administration, but also in the specific programs that public health deploys to manage chronic disease— most notably in the advocacy of the human capital approach to health education.