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A welfare state

Norway is often referred to as a welfare state. This means, firstly, that the state and local authorities have a responsibility for ensuring that all Norway's inhabitants have access to certain fundamental goods, such as schools, the health service and income in the form of benefits or social security if they are unable to work. A welfare state also means that every member of society shall enjoy these benefits; they are not just for rich people and they are not just emergency aid for the poorest people in society. Lastly, a welfare state means that there is a certain redistribution of income, so that everyone contributes to the common good through direct and indirect taxes.

The fact that Norway is a welfare state means that people who live here have certain rights - for example to education, health services and to be paid benefits if they are unemployed or ill. At the same time, however, it also means that people have duties that set out what they should or must do – for example to try to find a job and provide for themselves if they can, to be law-abiding and pay taxes, to take part in organisations to help themselves and others, and to take part in governing the country – by voting in elections, if nothing else. As a labour movement slogan puts it: 'Do your duty! Demand your rights!' This means that you cannot receive without trying to contribute.

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