Maintaining welfare in the wake of collapse – the case of Iceland

  • Edward Hákon Huijbens Icelandic Tourism Research Centre, University of Akureyri
  • Huginn Freyr Þorsteinsson University of Akureyri, school of Humanities and Social Science
Keywords: Iceland, IMF, public policy, welfare, regional geography


This paper details the current state of affairs of welfare and social equality in Iceland in the wake of the financial meltdown of 2008. The main focus of the paper is on the perceived role of the welfare state and to what extent current public policy actually departs from a neoliberal agenda. At the same time we argue how the policy struggles in the context of an outdated geographical framework informing Icelandic governance. The paper unravels public policy in general discussing how and to what degree current government austerity measures depart from the neoliberal ideal. Second, the paper outlines Iceland’s status in comparison with neighbouring countries focusing on the Nordic context but with added insights from some of the British isles. Thirdly, the paper will set out how public policy has played out so far in Iceland, unpacking the uneven geographies of Icelandic welfare policy. Finally the paper will be summarised, concluding with a call for a coherent and socio-spatially sensitive regional policy as the collective decision that can underpin social equity and equality in the post welfare state.

How to Cite
Huijbens, E., & Þorsteinsson, H. (2017). Maintaining welfare in the wake of collapse – the case of Iceland. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 16(1), 112-137. Retrieved from