The Nordic model of marriage and the welfare state / editors: Kari Melby ... [et al.]
Author(s): Kari Melby
Date: 2000

Marital laws constitute an important part of a society’s family policy. They regulate the relationship between the sexes, as well as that between individuals and the state. The research project The Nordic marriage model in a comparative perspective aims to investigate the regulation of marriage, with a particular emphasis on marital law reforms between 1909 and 1929. These reforms introduced the equality principle in marriage at a much earlier stage than what was the case elsewhere in Europe and one of this project’s central issues has been to analyse whether we can speak of a specific Nordic model of marriage.

Can the marital law reform be seen as a prerequisite for the Nordic welfare state model? The present book sheds light on the connections between the marital law reform and the emergence of the welfare state from a comparative perspective. In the Nordic countries, state intervention in the family was accepted as a way to establish gender equality and social progress. However, the consequent application of these principles failed in relation to the legal practice in property issues, taxation and national citizenship. Another theme of the anthology is marriage as an object of political debate in the early twentieth century. Social democratic movements were central to the creation of the modern Nordic welfare states, and the book illustrates how the social policy was formed on the basis of a gender-segregated nuclear family, and through a parallel struggle for both women’s possibilities for independent waged labour and for motherhood.