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Accumulation and Persistence of Welfare Problems over Time


This paper uses longitudinal Swedish data and investigates the accumulation and persistence of welfare problems over time. The data set was compiled in a first wave in 1979, a second wave in 1986–1987, a third wave in 1994–1995, and a fourth wave in 2002–2003 (N = 7,967). First, the results demonstrate that all welfare problems have a tendency to become persistent. For example, the probability of suffering from the lack of a close friend in the fourth wave was 57.1 % if the individual suffered from this welfare problem in the third wave. Second, economic problems constituted the welfare problem with the most associations with other welfare problems. Third, the accumulation of welfare problems significantly differed between different categories of individuals. For example, the accumulation of welfare problems was higher in men compared with women, immigrants compared with native Swedes, single individuals compared with individuals in couples, and poorly educated individuals compared with highly educated individuals. Finally, longitudinal analyses indicated individuals in certain categories have experienced cumulative disadvantages in welfare even during periods when individuals in other categories have experienced a positive trend in welfare. One such example is single parents during the period between 1979 and 1986–1987.

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  1. For an introduction to repeated measures analysis, see Keppel (1991) and the website “Repeated measures analysis with SPSS. UCLA: Statistical Consulting Group”.


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Correspondence to Miia Bask.

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This paper has benefited from comments by an anonymous reviewer, Mikael Bask and Björn Halleröd. I am also grateful to the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRiSS) at Stanford University for providing the opportunity to finalize this paper during an extended research visit at IRiSS. The usual disclaimer applies. (Version: November 14th, 2014.).

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Bask, M. Accumulation and Persistence of Welfare Problems over Time. Soc Indic Res 125, 757–770 (2016).

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  • Accumulation
  • Inequality
  • Longitudinal
  • Persistence
  • Sweden
  • Welfare problems