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Max Koch. Foto: Johan Persson.

Max Koch


Max Koch. Foto: Johan Persson.

Sustainable Welfare: Decoupling Welfare from Growth and Prioritising Needs Satisfaction for All


  • Milena Buchs
  • Max Koch
  • Jayeon Lee


  • Lauren Eastwood
  • Kai Heron

Summary, in English

Welfare capitalism has developed in the context of rapidly expanding, fossil fuel-driven industrial economies. Faced with the urgent need for systematic changes of economic systems so that they stay within planetary limits, decoupling welfare from economic growth is an important task. This chapter introduces the concept of sustainable welfare, referring to welfare systems that prioritise the satisfaction of human needs within planetary boundaries. Rather than aligning with the growth imperative through income protection schemes for the socio-economically marginalised and investments in human capital equipped for globalised and competitive economies, sustainable welfare states would prioritise eco-social policies, aiming at basic needs satisfaction for all, limiting excessive consumption behaviours and restricting income and wealth inequalities that have been exacerbated in recent decades. The chapter discusses the ways in which the mutual dependency between welfare systems and economic growth can be decreased by addressing the work and welfare nexus, shifting funding sources for welfare systems, strengthening preventive functions of welfare and redefining the chief goal of welfare systems as sustainable needs satisfaction for all. The chapter further discusses how the governance of this transition process to sustainable welfare can be envisioned, where multi-level governance models and deliberative processes will play a crucial role.


  • School of Social Work
  • Social Policy and Sustainability
  • LU Profile Area: Nature-based future solutions

Publishing year







De Gruyter Handbook of Degrowth

Document type

Book chapter


De Gruyter academic publishing


  • Social Work


  • Sustainable welfare
  • degrowth
  • economic growth
  • welfare systems




  • Postgrowth Welfare Systems
  • Economic Elites in the Climate Change Transformation: Practices, justifications and regulations of unsustainable lifestyles in Sweden


  • ISBN: 9783110778038
  • ISBN: 9783110778359