Social rights and spatial access to local social services: The role of structural conditions in access to local social services in Estonia


  • Kersti Kriisk School of Governance, Law and Society Tallinn University
  • Renate Minas Department of Social Work Stockholm University


Local social services, social rights, variations in access, urban and rural areas, remoteness, Estonia


Provision of local social services is an important measure to alleviate poverty, support vulnerable groups and promote citizens' independence. Access to these services is therefore a crucial aspect. However, access to local social services can come across many obstacles. This study aims at analysing access to local social services and the impact of structural conditions thereto. Estonia is used as an example. It is one of the smallest Eastern European countries, but divided into a large number of municipalities often with very low population density. We will analyse the impact of local conditions, using indicators like remoteness, resources and spending, on the extent of and the additional demand for a broad array of local social services. We include all of the local social services in Estonia that the municipalities are expected to finance and administer locally. Empirical data on the extent of and the additional demand for social services comes from a survey conducted among local social workers, whereas data on structural conditions derives from Statistics Estonia and the Ministry of Finance. Analytically, this article is embedded in the discussion about social rights.