In this study, we analyse the sharp rise in poverty among working-age singles and single parents in Sweden. In a dual-earner society like Sweden, we show that the return of mass unemployment in combination with the retreat of a generous and inclusive welfare state have substantially increased the poverty risks of single-adult households, who cannot rely on the income buffering effect of the family. Whereas cutbacks to unemployment benefits have been detrimental for the relative income position of single-adult households, the poverty risks of couples with and without children are much less affected. Individual-level characteristics of the poor persons themselves provide little explanatory leverage for why trends in poverty diverge by family form. Our results raise a number of issues of relevance for the wider academic debate about the capacity of the welfare state to adequately respond to both old and new social risk groups.
Alm, S., Nelson, K., & Nieuwenhuis, R. (2019). The Diminishing Power of One? Welfare State Retrenchment and Rising Poverty of Single-Adult Households in Sweden 1988–2011. European Sociological Review, 0(0), 20.