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The expert on the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s change: “The administrators were the guardians of the welfare state”

A research team in Gothenburg has followed the work at five of the Swedish Social Insurance Agency’s local offices since the goal of reducing sickness benefit rates was launched in 2015.

The Swedish Social Insurance Agency was then commissioned to break the trend. Their own forecast indicated that the then average of 10 sick days per person per year would increase to 13.

The new target instead meant that it would be lowered to 9.0.

The management changed

According to Kerstin Jacobsson, professor of sociology, the new goal had immediate effect.

– The local managers could say that “now it is 9.0 that the government wants us to come to terms with”. And “in everything you do, you should ask yourself the question, how does it help us reach 9.0?”.

The research team’s conclusion is that the new goal changed the management of the administrators, which in turn led to tougher assessments and more rejections.

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But was it said outwardly?

– Not externally, but internally.

“Heroic mission to save public finances”

Kerstin Jacobsson says that the new management of the authority’s administrators was reflected in a rhetoric about not letting too many people into health insurance – to protect public finances.

– This role had heroic elements. The administrators were the guardians of the welfare state. They had a heroic mission to save public finances for the future.

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But Kerstin Jacobsson does not think that was the government’s intention.

– You can say this if you want to point it out: It is not so difficult to reach 9.0, it is just a matter of increasing the rejections. But that was not what the government had in mind. The idea was also here that the support and efforts for the person on sick leave should be improved.

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