Policy field

Labour and Social Policy

Even before the financial crisis, the sustainability of the modern welfare state was in question. An ageing population, rising inequalities, and changing labour markets lead to higher demands for welfare by the electorate, while fiscal constraints and already high levels of social spending in many countries rule out further expansion. Almost all governments do not sufficiently invest in education, training, and childcare. While the challenges are mounting, the institutions and financing mechanisms of the welfare state have shown remarkable institutional continuity over more than a century. In fact, the institutional foundations of welfare states adapt only slowly to a rapidly-changing social, economic, and demographic environment. Research in this field includes research about new policy tools for promoting equality, the political preconditions for policy continuity and change in social and labour market policies, the evolution of global social policy, current issues in health and education policy, as well as the role of civil society organisations in social investment.

Current and recent projects

  • State, Risk and Society (STARS)
  • Netzwerk Labour Relations in Context (LRC) (Project funded by the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung) | Jürgen Grote
  • The Impact of NPM reforms on Employment Agencies in Europe (part of the FP 7 COCOPS project) | Gerhard Hammerschmid
  • Expert Group: Workers' Voice and Good Corporate Governance In Transnational Firms in Europe | Anke Hassel and Bettina Wagner
  • Labour Migration in Europe
  • Labour Mobility in Europe - An overview over posted workers, freedom of movement, seasonal work of EU citizens to Germany | Project commissioned by the Hans-Böckler-Foundation
  • External Evaluation of the Alliance against Trafficking for Work. Project commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Labour
  • Social, Educational and Health Inequalities in Welfare States: Comparative Analysis | Klaus Hurrelmann
  • Opportunity Structures of Adolescents in East European and Central Asian Countries (funded by Friedrich Ebert Foundation). Find related survey on young people in Balkan states here | Klaus Hurrelmann
  • Children and Youth Surveys in Germany (funded by World Vision Germany, Shell Germany, McDonald's Germany, MetallRente Germany) | Klaus Hurrelmann
  • Labour Migration and the Normative Basis of the Norwegian Welfare State (Stein Kuhnle, Project leader): Financed by Research Council of Norway | Stein Kuhnle
  • Sino-Nordic Welfare Research Network (SNoW) (Stein Kuhnle, Project leader): Financed by Nordic Council of Ministers | Stein Kuhnle
  • Towards a New Chinese Welfare State: Chinese Perceptions of Distributive Justice (Stein Kuhnle; participant): Financed by Research Council of Norway; Project directed by FAFO Research Institute, Oslo | Stein Kuhnle
  • The Russian Welfare State under Quadruple Influence: Stability or Conflict? (Stein Kuhnle; participant): Financed by Research Council of Norway; Project directed by Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research | Stein Kuhnle
  • Continuous innovation in social sector organization (in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation and The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society) | Johanna Mair, co-lead by Christian Seelos
  • Social Enterprise as Force for more Inclusive and Innovative Societies (SEFORIS) | Johanna Mair
  • Life Course, Social Policy, and the Family | Michaela Kreyenfeld
  • Welfare state context, economic uncertainty and family dynamics | Michaela Kreyenfeld
  • The Politics of Inequality: Causes, Consequences, Remedies | Claus Offe

Research network: Work and welfare

The Research network: Work and welfare aims at bringing together researchers studying topics related to work and welfare by organising monthly brownbag seminars [more].


SEFORIS is a multi-disciplinary research program funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme. [more]

Policy field speaker

Faculty and researchers