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Archived press releases and related news of the department "Political Economy of the Welfare State".

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Prof. Dr. Herbert ObingerProf. Dr. Herbert Obinger
Nearly one million euros for research on "Draft, Military and the Development of the Welfare State in Europe".

According to the call for applications of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG German Research Foundation) Reinhart Koselleck Grants are supposed to enable innovative and high-risk research projects. Herbert Obinger, Professor of Comparative Politics and Comparative Social Policy Research, has now received one of these prestigious grants for his innovative research. The political scientist of the University of Bremen will compare European states on the question of whether and to what extent military and compulsory military service contributed to the development of welfare states. With this grant, the University of Bremen, once again, received a prestigious award of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

The US debate on the development of welfare states already recognizes the contribution of the support for veterans as one crucial element of the development of the particular social security system of the USA. In Europe, however, industrialization, proletarianization and the rise of both trade unions and social democratic parties still dominate the debate on the development of welfare states. And this, although Europe itself was once the major location of two World Wars. The preparations for war, total mobilization, the dreadful course of the wars and their catastrophic consequences all offer multiple options for research on the question whether and to what extent military and compulsory military service interfered with the social and education policies of the European countries: demands for healthier and better educated conscripts, the attempts to prevent another "turnip winter" or the (more often than missing) support for war invalids, surviving dependents, displaced persons, slave laborers, prisoners, bombed-out inhabitants - to name just a few of all the people who were left damaged by the war as regards their lives, health or opportunities.

This Koselleck Grant focuses on two aims: On the one hand to systematize beyond the multitude of diverse individual stories the comparative influences of military and conscription on the development of European welfare states. And on the other hand to analyze to what extent military and conscription are responsible for the differences in the national education and social policies.

More information:
Reinhart Koselleck-Projects - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG German Research Foundation)

Prof. Dr. Herbert Obinger
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58567

Hannah Zagel: Understanding Differences in Labour Market Attachment of Single Mothers in Great Britain and West Germany

This paper investigates the relationships between single mothers’ demographic and socio-economic circumstances and differences in their labour market attachment in Great Britain and West Germany. Single mothers’ employment is a key issue in current policy debates in both countries, as well as in research on the major challenges of contemporary welfare states. The heterogeneity of the group of women who experience single motherhood poses a challenge to social policy. To complicate the matter, single motherhood is not static but a result of family life dynamics.

This paper provides an empirical insight into differences in labour market attachment of single mothers, investigating the demographic and socio-economic factors that distinguish careers dominated by full-time, part-time or non-employment. Women in the British and German contexts are considered in order to explore potential differences between two welfare state settings. Data from the British Household Panel Survey (1991-2008) and the German Socio-Economic Panel (1991-2008) are used for regression analysis.

The findings suggest that, in both countries, entering single motherhood at a young age is associated with longer periods of non-employment; vocational qualifications go together with careers dominated by part-time employment; and single motherhood with school-age children allows for full-time employment careers, which are also facilitated by high education attainments. The analyses also suggest that, compared to German mothers, part-time employment is a less common track for British single mothers.

Download: ZeS Working Paper 03/2015

Peter Starke: Krisen und Krisenbewältigung im deutschen Sozialstaat: Von der Ölkrise zur Finanzkrise von 2008

This working paper analyses the German social policy reactions to the 2008 Financial Crisis in light of the historical development and findings of comparative welfare state research. Four subsequent fiscal stimulus packages contained several important social policy elements, most importantly short-time work. By international standards, Germany’s social policy response to the crisis was not uncommon, given its economic performance and existing welfare state institutions. What was surprising was the important role trade unions and employers had in formulating these policies. Representatives of the German export-oriented sectors, in particular, were able to leave their mark in 2008/09.

Download: ZeS Working Paper 02/2015

Edited by Stephan Leibfried, Evelyne Huber, Matthew Lange, Jonah D. Levy, Frank Nullmeier, and John D. Stephens.

This Handbook offers a comprehensive treatment of transformations of the state, from its origins in different parts of the world and different time periods to its transformations since World War II in the advanced industrial countries, the post-Communist world, and the Global South.

Leading experts in their fields, from Europe and North America, discuss conceptualizations and theories of the state and the transformations of the state in its engagement with a changing international environment as well as with changing domestic economic, social, and political challenges. The Handbook covers different types of states in the Global South (from failed to predatory, rentier and developmental), in different kinds of advanced industrial political economies (corporatist, statist, liberal, import substitution industrialization), and in various post-Communist countries (Russia, China, successor states to the USSR, and Eastern Europe). It also addresses crucial challenges in different areas of state intervention, from security to financial regulation, migration, welfare states, democratization and quality of democracy, ethno-nationalism, and human development.

The volume makes a compelling case that far from losing its relevance in the face of globalization, the state remains a key actor in all areas of social and economic life, changing its areas of intervention, its modes of operation, and its structures in adaption to new international and domestic challenges.

Table of Contents

More information:
Oxford University Press

Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58576

Prof. Dr. Stephan Leibfried
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58606

Scientific survey on public acceptance of reforms/ Researchers' stand is located at the entrance area of the Cinespace cinema.

Public projects cost money, i.e. the money of taxpayers. Major social projects thereby have numerous financing aspects. How are those projects, in turn, perceived and evaluated by the citizens? This is the question which is addressed by researchers of the Centre for Social Policy Research of the University of Bremen during the upcoming week from the 17th to 22nd of November 2014. In doing so, they are going to conduct a survey among customers and pedestrians at the Waterfront shopping mall in Gröpelingen. "We would like to know which aspects of justice are considered among the public with regard  to the financial burdens of major public projects", says the Project Director, Professor Stefan Traub. Participants, who will remain anonymous, are supposed to conduct simple decision tasks during a fifteen-minute computer-based interview. The hereby obtained results and data sets will then be analyzed and evaluated by the researches in order to explain the acceptance and effects of reforms.

As a reward, each participant will be remunerated with five euro. Additionally, all participants have the chance to win a lottery prize of up to 160 euro in cash. Professor Traub and his team will set up their booth in front of the Cinespace Multiplex cinema inside the shopping mall and will be available daily from 10.00 a.m. till 8.00 p.m..

Ole Kutzschbauch

Conference held by Centre for Social Policy Research and Sciences Po, Paris on September 25-26, 2014.

The aim of this workshop was to bridge the research on party competition, electoral politics and welfare state transformations. With quite some cross-country variation, we witness major changes in the welfare state arrangements all over Europe since the beginning of the new millennium. In Continental Europe, for example, reputed for its reform incapacity, large parts of the welfare state underwent substantial reforms in the recent years. Even more profound reforms have been provoked in the wake of the European sovereign debt crisis in Spain, Portugal, and Greece. The welfare state was not only the ‘principal institution in the construction of post-war capitalism’, but also helped to underpin stable party-voter alignments when the cultural milieus on which given parties were based started to erode in the 1970s. Today, these stabilizing resources are largely depleted as the need to reform, recalibrate and retrench now meets a much more volatile electoral environment. We want to reflect on the effects of these welfare state transformations on party competition in a broader perspective. Given the importance of welfare states for structuring political contestation and the magnitude of recent reforms, our starting hypothesis is that the transformations of the welfare states should impact on various aspects of political competition.

A recent literature is concerned with the electoral consequences of such reforms. It asks whether governments will indeed be punished for retrenching the welfare state or whether welfare state friendly parties are spared from such punishment. But more encompassing analyses looking at the effects on party competition, the consequences for voter behavior and new reform coalitions are still lacking. This is surprising considering that the welfare state is one of the major objects of political contestation and the economic dimension of political competition is largely structured by attitudes and positions towards the (welfare) state. At the same time, the redistributive and thereby political consequences of reforms are complex, since social policy is multidimensional: Many reforms cut back on passive protection against ‘old’ risks while implementing new schemes to cope with ‘new’ social risks and reinforcing the employment orientation of social policies.

Yet, party competition is changing as well. Research on changes in party systems often emphasizes the effects of long-term structural trends on the structuring capacity of traditional conflict lines on party-voter alignments or party competition. The welfare state’s influence on potential reconfigurations of these party-voter alignments or party competition is, however, often neglected. Yet, welfare state changes impact party competition as well as party-voter links. Losers of the recent welfare state reforms, for example, might vote increasingly for parties at the poles of the party spectrum. Potentially, this leads to a stronger polarization and fragmentation of party systems, but it could also lead to a lower legitimacy of governments as larger parts of the population are not represented in governments. Hence, we are interested in the effects of welfare state reforms on political alienation and vote abstention, on political polarization and the rise of radical left and right parties, as well as on the potential re- positioning of mainstream parties as a reaction to these new challengers – a repositioning that might also take place on ‘non-economic’ dimensions of party contestation. Has the ‘re-moralization’ of politics to do with the depletion of politics’ material resources?

Thanks to the generous funding of the CRC "Transformations of the State" and Sciences Po, Paris, the following group of scholars were invited to discuss the above outlined questions:

  • Alexandre Afonso, King's College, London, UK
  • Ben Ansell, Nuffield College, Oxford University, UK
  • Silja Häusermann, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • Carsten Jensen, University of Aarhus, Denmark
  • Herbert Kitschelt, Duke University, USA
  • Johannes Lindvall, University of Lund, Sweden
  • Kimberly Morgan, George Washington University, USA
  • Jonathan T. Polk, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Philipp Rehm, University of Ohio, USA
  • Jan Rovny, Centre d'études européennes, Sciences Po, Paris, France
  • Allison Rovny, Centre d'études européennes, Sciences Po, Paris, France
  • David Rueda, Nuffield College, University of Oxford, UK

Philip Manow, Centre for Social Policy Research, University of Bremen, Germany
Bruno Palier, Centre d'études européennes, Sciences Po, Paris, France
Hanna Schwander, Centre for Social Policy Research, University of Bremen, Germany

Prof. Dr. Philip Manow
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58580

Professor Stefan Traub, Spokesman of the new research groupProfessor Stefan Traub, Spokesman of the new research group
Centre for Social Policy Research contributes spokesman and two projects.

On its October meeting, the Senate of the German Reserach Foundation (DFG) approved setting up a new research group "Needs-based Justice and Distribution Procedures" (FOR 2104) at the University of Bremen. The interdisciplinary research group is a cooperation between eleven philosophers, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists and economists from the Universities of Bremen, Hamburg, Oldenburg, Vienna and Jacobs University Bremen. Economist Professor Stefan Traub, co-director of ZeS' Economics Department, will serve as the spokesman of the research group. Moreover, the University of Bremen is involved in the group with political scientists Professor Frank Nullmeier and Doctor Tanja Pritzlaff, both from ZeS' Theory and Constition of the Welfare State Department, and Philosopher Professor Dagmar Borchers.

In the first three-year funding phase (2015-2017) the research group will investigate how needs are identified at the individual level and how these needs are then acknowleged at the societal level. Does the process of acknowledging needs converge to a stable equilibrium? What is the impact of needs-based redistribution in terms of economic incentives on the sustainability of welfare states? A special feature of the research group is its interdisciplinarity: each project involves at least two disciplines. Furthermore, all projects will conduct laboratoy experiments, where subjects make realistic distribution decisions. In the long run the research groups aims at formulating a normative needs-based theory of distributional justice that is based on experimental evidence. The members of the research group expect transparency to increases the acceptance of needs-based redistribution at the individual level and expertise to improve overall approval for needs-based redistribution in the welfare state.

A DFG research group is a close collaboration of a group of outstanding researchers that work jointly on a specific research questions. Research topic, timeline and funding exceed DFG 's standard procedure for research funding by far. Research groups are usually funded for six years and aim at establishing new research fields.

At this point of time the exact size of the DFG grant is unknown, because the written confirmation is still due.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Traub

From left to right: Joachim Gauck (President of the Federal Republic of Germany), Peter Masuch (President of the Federal Welfare Court) (© Andreas Fischer, Kassel).From left to right: Joachim Gauck (President of the Federal Republic of Germany), Peter Masuch (President of the Federal Welfare Court) (© Andreas Fischer, Kassel).
Welfare State Memorandum handed to German President Joachim Gauck, who offered to continue the discussion.

On September 11, 2014, President Joachim Gauck presented the welfare state memorandum, a Denkschrift, at the German Federal Welfare Court in Kassel on the court's 60th jubilee. The memorandum is an unusual Festschrift to which the Center for Social Policy Research (ZeS) and the Collaborative Research Center 597 "Transformations of the State" (TranState) of the University of Bremen have contributed considerably. The title of the memorandum volume is "Foundations and Challenges of the Welfare State". It is published by the Erich Schmidt Verlag in Berlin, a welfare law publisher.

The memorandum is 823 pages long. More than 300 pages address thereby the present challenges of the welfare state; the other contributions take stock of historical and legal perspectives. In a path and institution dependent sector such as the welfare state, though, looking back tells a lot about present and future trajectories. At the end of his speech, President Joachim Gauck invited the memorandum editors and other experts to a colloquium at his official residence Bellevue Palace in Berlin. Topics of discussion will be challenges to the welfare state but also to its respective research. Especially the weakening infrastructure at German universities posits such a challenge due to its crucial/fundamental importance for the public debate on welfare state reforms.

A Festschrift for a court in shape of a memorandum is a quite unusual format. The memorandum is not, as it would have been expected, about lauding the Federal Welfare Court and its adjudication in the last 60 years. The court rather uses the occasion to look beyond - at the state of the welfare state and its future. It looks at the fate of the 'object' of its own jurisprudence, a moving target that has a take on 50 percent of all state expenditures and on one third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Germany. Having this in mind, the Court reaches far beyond jurisprudence (9 chapters) into economics, history, philosophy, social policy, and sociology (29 chapters) in its memorandum. Though welfare state challenges are relevant in the OECD world, a well developed system of welfare courts is a German distinctiveness: Germany has fused the rule of law with the welfare state. This leads to something unique, which the Germans dub Sozialstaat. In Germany, Sozialstaat and the welfare court system are identical twins (Preface, p. X f.). It did not happen by chance that it was a German welfare court which took the initiative for an overall assessment of the welfare state landscape.

The strong participation of Bremen academics is revealed by many researchers who either are currently working at Bremen University (Olaf Groh-Samberg, Friedhelm Hase, Stephan Leibfried, Steffen Mau, Frank Nullmeier, and Herbert Obinger), were members at an earlier time (Stefan Gosepath, Florian Rödl, Ilona Ostner, Manfred G. Schmidt, and Peter Starke) or are strongly connected to the Bremen Centre for Social Policy Research, the ZeS, (like Franz-Xaver Kaufmann, who was the Chairman of the ZeS' founding advisory board from 1990 to 1998). Kaufmann contributed the conclusion to the memorandum, which is a good start to the whole volume (pp. 777-811).

From left to right: Joachim Gauck (President of the Federal Republic of Germany), Peter Masuch (President of the Federal Welfare Court), Joachim Schmidt (Publisher, Erich Schmidt Verlag), Wolfgang Spellbrink (Judge, Federal Welfare Court), Ulrich Becker (Codirector, Max Planck Institute for Welfare Law and Social Policy, Munich), Stephan Leibfried (Director, Research Center Transformations of the State (TranState), University of Bremen and Research Professor Jacobs University) (© Andreas Fischer, Kassel).    Bremen participation will also be strong in the second volume of that Denkschrift on "Knowledge Production by Judges and Academia: The Federal Welfare Court's Knowledge Production and Welfare State Research" that will be published in 2015. Involved Bremen researchers are: Stefan Gress, Johannes Huinink, Heinz Rothgang, and Winfried Schmähl. This volume results from the conference that took place on September 9 and 10 in Kassel. It brought together the Federal Welfare Court judges with chairs from five disciplines (economics, law, philosophy, political science, and sociology), all involved in social policy research. Eight topics - and eight court jurisdictions - came into focus: long-term care, old age security, health, labour market policy, poverty, family, disability, and the financing of social security. Since the whole event took place under the umbrella of the 48th Welfare Judges Week, judges from lower courts participated throughout.

Two of the editors have a Bremen origin: Stephan Leibfried, Director of the Collaborative Research Center 597 "Transformations of the State" and principal investigator at the Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS), has been a professor in Bremen since 1974; as well as Peter Masuch, President of the Federal Welfare Court in Kassel, a University of Bremen Law School alumnus of the class of '72, who had been a welfare court judge in Bremen in the 1980s and a state welfare court judge in Bremen in the 1990s.

More information:
Erich Schmidt Verlag: TOC and more information about the publication.

Prof. Dr. Stephan Leibfried
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58606

Aline Grünewald: Social Security around the World. A Review of Datasets

Due to increasing scholarly interest in social policy reforms and processes of policy diffusion, comprehensive datasets on social security systems are all the more necessary. As such, this paper provides an overview of existing datasets on social security and discusses their strengths and shortcomings.

The projects presented are appropriate for empirical analyses, including both event history analyses and multivariate regressions. As much of the research on social security systems thus far has mainly focused on OECD countries, this paper takes a closer look on data of the Non-OECD world, which can be used to supplement existing data projects and for the analysis of global social security dynamics.

Download: ZeS Working Paper 03/2014

Herbert Obinger, Klaus Petersen: Mass Warfare and the Welfare State. Causal Mechanisms and Effects

The question whether and how warfare has influenced the development of advanced Western welfare states is contested. So far, scholarly work either focused on the trade-off between military and social spending or on case studies of individual countries. What is missing, however, is a systematic comparative approach that is informed by an explicit consideration of the underlying causal mechanisms.

This paper outlines an agenda for a comparative analysis of the warfare-welfare state nexus. By distinguishing between three different phases (war preparation, warfare, and post-war period) it provides a comprehensive analysis of possible causal mechanisms linking war and the welfare state and provides preliminary empirical evidence for war waging, occupied and neutral countries in the age of mass warfare stretching from ca. the 1860s to the 1960s.

Download: ZeS Working Paper 02/2014