The Role of Non-Profit Organisations in the Development and Provision of Welfare Services in Iceland

  • Omar H. Kristmundsson
  • Steinunn Hrafnsdottir
Keywords: Iceland, Democracy, Non-Profit Organisations, Welfare Service


In the article the role of non-profit organisations in the development and provision of welfare services in Iceland is discussed. As Iceland has adopted the so-called Nordic welfare model or social democratic regime, the country should – according to Lester M. Salomon and Helmut K. Anheier’s social origin theory – have a limited role in welfare service provision. Instead it should have a primarily supplementary role, advocating citizens’ rights and responding to unmet public needs. Based on analysis of historical data and official statistics, our findings for Iceland only partly support the theory. Non-profit organisations, both in the past and presently, do have an important role in providing welfare services. This is especially the case of certain functional areas like services for the elderly and disabled, rehabilitation and treatment of alcohol and drug users. Non-profit organisations providing public services can be considered quasi-government agencies and have not grown in number in the past decades. Organisational growth has however continued among associations with smaller-scale operations, i. e. the so-called member-oriented groups and campaigning associations responding to unmet citizens’ needs.