Caring Economics, Cooperation, and the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Silvia Hedenigg Friedensau Adventist University



Caring Economics;, Cooperation;, Design Principles;, Solidarity;, Trust;, Empathy, COVID-19 Pandemic


For centuries, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations shaped profit maximization as the standard of economic action. The concept of caring economics published by the feminist law and systems scientist Riane Eisler under the title The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics (2007) contrasts this neoliberal, dominance-oriented model of society with the idea of partnership-oriented societies. The concept of caring economics was widely influenced by the social, economic, and welfare systems of the Nordic countries. In 2015-2016, the author of this article conducted a pilot study interviewing scientists from different disciplines with the aim of investigating whether the conditions in these countries reflect Eisler’s theoretical model (Hedenigg, 2019). While Eisler emphasized empathy and care as essential orientations of partnership societies, several of the interviewed scholars, in contrast, stressed cooperation, trust, solidarity, and functioning institutions as essential elements in addition to Eisler’s concept. This article hypothesizes that Eisler’s conception of caring economics should be supplemented by the elements mentioned above, in particular, cooperation. The aim is to identify, in a theory-guided manner, the elements that constitute the central operative mechanisms of the extended conception of caring economics. Resulting conclusions are discussed in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Norway and Finland are among the 10 most successful nations in epidemic containment. This article assumes that the extended conceptualization of caring economics does not only allow us to gain insight into the complexity of the pandemic, but also to identify various successful containment mechanisms. In particular, cooperation appears to play a major role in this context. From an evolutionary point of view, multilevel selection can be regarded as an essential tool to cope with global problems and threats like the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, trust and solidarity as well as gender aspects in the context of political leadership and welfare regimes have been identified as successful pandemic containment mechanisms. In summary, the Covid-19 pandemic lends strong plausibility to the extended conception of caring economics.




How to Cite

Hedenigg, S. (2021). Caring Economics, Cooperation, and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies, 8(1), Article 4.