Social investments over the life course

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Yesterday the discussion of how to modernize European welfare states took place in Paris. My two cents was on social investment seen in a life course perspective arguing that policies can help develop, strengthen, maintain and rehabilitate human’s functional capacities and thus better meet life’s events and transitions and its social and economic problems. Childcare and active labor market policies are chief social investment policies, but drawing on Danish experiences my examples concerned the unusual suspects of housing, minimum incomes, sickness benefits, disability pensions and long term care. After another five such workshops involving ministries, scholars, and NGO’s the organizers will decide whether and how to take such discussions out of the beautiful Jean Monnel Salle into the broader French polity and society. Bonne chance! For more on the event and initiative see France Strategie.

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A New Danish Unemployment Insurance Scheme?

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Today we – the Danish Unemployment Insurance Commission – launched our reform proposal for a new unemployment insurance system in Denmark. At the core we suggest a flexible and dynamic unemployment insurance system that rewards unemployed who takes up even short spells of work and that operate with re-current waiting periods which can be avoided by small amounts of work. The reward is that one day of work equals two days of benefit, either as an extension of ongoing period or as part of a work record for a new benefit period. The re-current two day waiting periods every three months can be avoided by working one week per month. Whether these and other reform elements will be adopted is to be seen over the next few days or weeks as the parliamentary political process has taken over. For more see the Commission homepage of the Ministry of Employment.

An American Dilemma in Europe? Welfare Reform and Immigration

race ethnicity and welfare states

Are European countries facing an American dilemma? Alberto Alesina and Edward Glaeser (2004) stirred great controversy when they argued that the generous European welfare states might not be able to survive in heterogeneous societies. Pointing to the rise of anti-immigrant politicians in Europe, they claimed that “as Europe has become more diverse, Europeans have increasingly been susceptible to exactly the same form of racist, anti-welfare demagoguery that worked so well in the United States.” In a chapter to a new volume on race, ethnicity and the welfare state, Romana Careja, Patrick Emmenegger and I study the relation between immigration and ethnicity on the one hand and policy change on the other hand in Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Although Denmark and the UK are countries with different welfare regimes and types of democratic institutional settings, both countries have tightened immigrants’ access to the country and to its social benefits in at least ten different ways. One example of a change of immigration or social policy that disproportionately and adversely affects immigrants may be an accident, i.e. a case of ignorance on behalf of politicians. Two examples of such change may be a tragedy as immigrants tend to rely on social assistance than nationals and thus are more exposed to adverse change. However, ten examples in two different countries cannot be dismissed as either an accident or a tragedy, but must be seen as policy-making that has the purpose of weakening the social rights of immigrants, the extent of redistribution to non-native-born persons or both.Although Denmark and the UK are countries with different welfare regimes and types of democratic institutional settings, both countries have tightened immigrants’ access to the country and to its social benefits in at least ten different ways. One example of a change of immigration or social policy that disproportionately and adversely affects immigrants may be an accident, i.e. a case of ignorance on behalf of politicians. Two examples of such change may be a tragedy as immigrants tend to rely on social assistance than nationals and thus are more exposed to adverse change. However, ten examples in two different countries cannot be dismissed as either an accident or a tragedy, but must be seen as policy-making that has the purpose of weakening the social rights of immigrants, the extent of redistribution to non-native-born persons or both. This shift in policy underlines the new ethnic divide in the politics of welfare reform.

For more on the book please consult the publisher Edvard Elgard.

Social investment as risk management

9781137527301“Assembling a strong team of social policy experts, the volume offers an impressive, authoritative, and comprehensive examination of how the Danish welfare state addresses social risks across the full array of policy domains. Relying on comparative analysis, the book manages with success to convey the model’s unique and internationally celebrated features: its stress on universalism, its social investment approach to risks, its celebrated family support and, not least, its commitment to gender equalization.” – Gøsta Esping, Andersen Professor of Sociology, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain

For more information  in the volume “The Danish Welfare State” edited by Tea Bengtsson, Morten Frederiksen and Jørgen Elm Larsen see Palgrave. I contributed with a chapter “Social Investment as Risk Management” comparing the Danish approach to risk management with that of other European countries.

Roskilde School of Governance

Today we are launching the Roskilde School of Governance – a new center with research, education and policy advice on governance and policy-making. Here Ole Helby report the tentative conclusions from a major study on contracting out: diminishing returns to contracting out over time and adverse impact on employees – fascinating! At 15:30 Professor and Center Director, Jacob Torfing, host a reception – hurry, you are all welcome:) 

IPAP rocks, now in Brussels

Great week with IPAP students and colleague Caroline de la Porte in Brussels discussing security, GMO’s and GINI’s, economic and social goals, national sovereignty and international collaboration with ambassadors and senior civil servants in NATO, the European Commission, the European Parliament and at an international policy conference on growth and inequality in Europe. A little proud to say that this first cohort of IPAP students impressed the speakers with knowledge on substantive policy areas and competent policy analysis:)
IPAP in Brussels 2015-04-16 15.05.16 HDR

Youth and inequality

Just got 360 new colleagues, all experts on youth, at the 2015 conference of the Journal of Youth Studies skillfully organised by Tea Bengtsson and Signe Ravn. I gave a keynote “Youth and inequality: Nordic public policies analyzed through a life course perspective on social investments” and got so many good and tough questions, that I am back at the desk outlining a new piece on Scandinavian Social Democratic Social Policy in the 21st Century, thanks! #JYSC2015CBbsssIWQAAmSCH.jpg-small

IPAP – International Public Administration and Politics

To attract especially foreign students we are making mini profiles of lecturers on the new IPAP master. Please spread the word about the new education.

Five questions to Professor Jon Kvist

1. Who are you?

I have a PhD in comparative social policy and worked for many years for an applied research institute, SFI – The Danish National Institute for Social Research and lately five years at the Centre for Welfare State in Odense. In 2014 I switched to RUC to work with IPAP students. This has proven great fun.

Jon Kvist_beton
2. Why are you interested in International Public Administration and Politics?

As I am no Robin Hood nor have the skills or endurance to last a lifelong career as doctor or social worker I opted for a desk job. By chance it became as social researcher and I like my job as much as when I started. I hope that one or more of my students will be able to change the world, that would not be bad.

3. What will you teach and supervise?

International Political Economy; labour market policy, social policy, tax policy, family policies etc; social and economic dimensions of welfare; demography; EU and much more. And together with Caroline de la Porte, I will take the students to Brussels for a week-long tour to institutions sponsored by the European Communities.

4. What are your research interests?

Welfare and well-being; challenges to welfare societies; inequality; comparative political economy and political sociology; reforms of labor markets and of social and tax policies

5. What are the main challenges for welfare societies?

The world gets smaller and more complex in demographic terms. Globalisation and the EU increasingly influence national welfare states, often in indirect but profound ways. Populations are aging and becoming more multi-cultural just as family types of families. Qualifications increase everywhere, especially women get higher educations. This give promise of more equal societies in the future but also calls for major overhauls of public policies, norms and institutions. And this is where the students of the new IPAP master come into the picture as actors, analysts or architects of tomorrow societies:)

For profiles of my good colleagues check out the IPAP facebook homepage.

First Latin American Social Cohesion Conference

President of Chile's Senate Isabel Allende and President of Chile Michelle BacheletThe First Latin American Social Cohesion Conference was hosted by President of the Chilean Senate, Isabel Allende, and the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet end January 2015.

This was the first time social cohesion figured as a strategic priority in the European Union-Latin American partnership.

No need saying that the conference was a great success with Allende and Bachelet inspiring the participants from Latin America and Europe – politicians, NGO’s, think tanks and the token scholars – to exchange views and knowledge of why and how to put social cohesion higher on the current reform agenda.

I was happy to participate and present the new European social policy strategy in Europe, namely social investments. Right now EUROsociaL is working on an edited volume with some of the contributions, stay tuned:)

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