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Fabienne Müller
Fabienne Müller
After a few years in diplomacy, Fabienne has returned to university. She is doing a PhD in history, researching US trade and social policy since 1970.

Dear Fabienne, you have been a member of CRC 1342 for two months now - what did you do before that?

The last few years I was in Warsaw, where I worked at the German Embassy, in the area of culture and public relations. I prepared programmes for cultural events, drafted letters and looked after delegations. It was a leap from university into practice.

What had you studied before?

I had studied political science, administrative sciences and Spanish philology at the University of Potsdam - Bachelor and Master. Then I received a scholarship for another Master's programme.

Where and what did you study then?

European Interdisciplinary Studies at the College of Europe in Warsaw. The main campus of the university is in Bruges, but since the 1990s there is a campus in Natolin, a district of Warsaw.

What languages were the courses in?

English and French. But I also wanted to learn Polish, because I had already started a language course in Potsdam - that was another reason to go to Warsaw.

How long did you live there in total?

The Master's lasted one year, and after that I was at the embassy for five years. Until June of this year.

When did you decide to go back to university and do a PhD?

That was always my wish, because I liked my studies and the theoretical work so much. Directly after graduating, no suitable opportunity arose, so I applied for other positions, also to get an insight into diplomacy and the work and structures of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the long run, however, I always wanted to return to academia and go more in-depth in terms of subject matter. Working at the embassy requires you to quickly familiarise with changing topics. That was an important experience, but I wanted to work on a topic in depth again.

You studied political science, but now you're doing a PhD in history. How did that come about?

I was always interested in subjects adjacent to political science. During my Bachelor's degree, I took courses in history and the history of political ideas as a specialisation, just as I did in my Master's degree in Potsdam. And at the College of Europe, European history was my specialisation.

How did you hear about the position at the CRC?

I have a friend who is doing her PhD at the University of Bremen and she told me about the CRC: "Take a look, the CRC brings together political science and history, that would be a good fit for you." I then clicked through the website and read about the first phase to see where I could tie in and then came across the job advertisement for the project on social policy and protectionism and applied.

You've only been in Bremen since July - have you pinpointed your responsibilities in the project yet?

We have already met a few times in the team and decided which of us will study which country and which time periods. I will be taking care of the USA, specifically the time period from 1970 to the present. From a historian's perspective, that's quite a long period. That's why I'm currently busy reading up on it. I am also reading about the period before that, which my colleague Fritz is in charge of, since the events and decisions in the decades before that obviously provide the basis for social policy in the period from 1970 onwards.

You share your office with Fritz Kusch and Fernando Vinueza, who are also PhD students at the CRC and work on related topics: Have you set up something like a reading circle or book club?

We don't read together, but we have built up a steadily growing library in our office, which we are currently working through. If we notice something that fits in with each other's topics, we bring it to each other's attention.

Do you already have plans for your dissertation?

Yes, I would like to work on the history of ideas, as that fits in with my studies. I am currently trying to work out the major mechanisms in US social policy since the 1970s. If the literature and sources allow, I would like to examine exactly what has significantly influenced US pension policy since the 1990s - given the upheavals in the history of ideas.

Do you want to do a cumulative PhD or write a monograph?

I think I will choose the monograph format. We all work that way in the team, and it is still the most common format in the field of historical studies.

What are your plans for the future: do you want to stay in academia or go back to practice?

The next three and a half years are a very long period of time, which is why I cannot yet see what will come after that. From today's point of view, I would be very happy if I got the opportunity to continue working in science.

Fabienne Müller
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft / FB 08
Universitäts-Boulevard 13
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58628

The team works on occupational injury, unemployment and pension policies and needs support in researching/processing data and literature. The working time is 8 to 10 hours per week.

The Project A02 Global Dynamics of Coverage and Generosity in Work-Injury Compensation, Unemployment and Old-Age Pensions at the CRC 1342 is looking for a

student assistant (f/m/d)

working 8 to 10 hours per week. Start date: As soon as possible. The position initially runs until the end of 2022, but can be prolonged incrementally by mutual agreement until the end of the year 2024. Breaks of up to three months for, e.g., internships are possible, but need to be communicated in advance.

Project A02 is part of the Collaborative Research Centre 1342 "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" which is funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG).

The project examines the development of social policy since 1880 across all countries of the globe. In particular, the research assistant’s work would focus on coverage and generosity of work-injury and unemployment policies. There are many different tasks, so the research assistant could have some choice over what they prefer to do.

Potential Tasks

  • Literature reviews and reference management in the area of welfare state research
  • Contributing to data collection, data processing and data analysis
    • Finding data sources using various internet-based research methods
    • Coding written laws and secondary sources into a comparative database
    • Developing a codebook and strategy for comparative analysis and data sharing publicly
    • Learning and supporting statistical analysis
  • Working in English primarily, with some German


  • Ongoing studies in Political Science, Sociology or similar
  • Interest in at least one of the following areas: comparative welfare studies, social policy, legal history or work-injury and unemployment law
  • Basic knowledge of qualitative or quantitative methods (the latter preferably with R or Stata)
  • Very good English skills
  • Ability to use or willingness to learn Zotero reference management software
  • Advanced skills in MS Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel)
  • Data coding skills are welcome, but not necessary

We offer

  • Insights into a fascinating field of work and research
  • The opportunity to work in a friendly, interdisciplinary team
  • An hourly wage in accordance with the usual rates at the University of Bremen
  • The possibility to write a BA/MA thesis on a topic related to the project

Please send your short application (including letter of motivation, curriculum vitae, transcripts of records and, if applicable, degree certificates) as one PDF file to Nate Breznau ( Feel free to email with any questions. We will fill the position as soon as we find a good candidate.

Dr. Nate Breznau
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen

Hannes Salzmann
Hannes Salzmann
Hannes is researching party positions and their implications for social policy in the information management project. In his doctoral thesis, he wants to develop a new approach based on quantitative text analysis and natural language processing.

Dear Hannes, what did you do before the CRC, there is not too much about you on the internet.

If you google me, you find "Hannes Salzmann, sand in the gearbox of the capital": Me as a musician at the 1st of May demonstration in Braunschweig. I earned money with music - guitar and singing - as a part-time job. Professionally, I studied in Göttingen. In fact, I started studying information systems technology in Braunschweig. But in the first semester I realised that engineering maths wasn't for me, so I moved to Göttingen to study political science and economics. I then did a Master's degree in political science, focusing on democracy and political party research and on quantitative methods, including supervised and unsupervised machine learning, text as data and quantitative text analysis.

That fits in very well with what is required here at the CRC.

Yes, when I saw the job advertisement, I thought: Wow, that fits like a glove! I was lucky enough to actually get the job. Especially since I had only moved to Bremen with my partner a year ago.

What made you decide to move to Bremen without a job?

My partner and I had studied in different cities. During the pandemic we thought we could study from anywhere. We wanted to go to the north, Hamburg was too big for us - hence: Bremen. I wrote my Master's thesis here and finished in January.

January 2022? That was perfect timing with regard to the position in the CRC.

That was outrageous luck. Especially since I realised during my Master's thesis that I really enjoy research.

What did you examine in your Master's thesis?

Lobbyism. Very exciting, but still under-researched in Germany because the data availability is very poor compared to the USA, for example. In 2013 there was a study at the European level by Heike Klüver. She looked at which factors are decisive for the success of lobbying: how much money does an association have, how many people can it mobilise and how much information does it give to politicians? Klüver compared draft legislation and finalised texts and analysed all the statements of lobbying associations. She used the Wordfish algorithm to do this. The algorithm ranks the texts on a scale - for example, when it comes to the expansion of wind power, between the extreme positions a) "As much wind power as technically possible" and b) "No more wind power at all".  This gives us, on the basis of the text documents, a spatial distance between actors.

Klüver then assumed that actors who are on the same side of the scale have entered into a lobbying coalition. Then she looked: Which coalition wins? In which direction did the text of the law move in relation to the original draft? Then she calculated a multiple regression with the factors financial resources of the lobby groups, voter support and information flow. Klüver did this for 56 legislative processes. She was able to prove a statistically significant positive correlation between all three variables and the success of lobbying efforts. Money has the highest influence and voter support the lowest, but the differences are minimal.

In my Master's thesis, I wanted to transfer Klüver's approach to Germany. I collected my own data set on energy policy with about 1500 documents. This was extremely time-consuming because in Germany there is no central place for collecting comments on draft legislation and there is also no obligation to publish them.

When I calculated my regression, I found that I could explain 5 percent of the variance between the draft law and the final text of the law - so it wasn't worth it at all in terms of my research interest! I was only able to show that obviously the data basis in Germany is insufficient to carry out such a lobbying analysis.

Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

Yes, I would have extended my analysis system to include the "degree of proximity" as a variable: Those who merely submit a written opinion are quite far away from the decision-making bodies, but those who meet the federal minister in person are likely to have far-reaching influence. I have researched cases where lobbyists even sat on committees - there, too, one can assume a great deal of influence.

Apart from that, I would narrow down the topic more: Energy policy as a whole was too broad, and the text of the law, with over 300 pages, too extensive. As a result, some of the comments referred to sections of the law that had relatively little to do with each other. I should have done topic modelling beforehand to achieve a stronger focus.

However, it was nice that the automated analysis method allowed me to process text data in a quantity that would never have been possible manually.

In your current work at the CRC, you are following up on these experiences and methods: What exactly are you up to?

I'm now working in the information management project: my first task will be to collect and analyse party programmes. We are trying to determine party positions worldwide and measure their impact on social policy. Traditional ways to determine party positions are to interview experts and to analyse party programmes. But this has disadvantages: Experts are not always available for all parties. And party programmes are not objective data, but strategic documents: their purpose is to present the party to the public in a desired way, and they do not always serve to realistically represent a party's goals. Moreover, a party's position can change in the course of a legislative period.

Therefore, I would like to develop a new approach to measuring party positions. My first idea was about policy output. This has the weakness that you can only apply it to governing parties ...

... basically only to parties that are in government alone ...

Correct! You would have to filter out all other factors, coalition partners, veto players, the Bundesrat, etc. That is difficult.

But there is an archive in Germany with all parliamentary debates, including the names and party affiliations of the speakers. I would like to try to automatically extract ideological positions from parliamentary speeches and derive party positions from them. To do this, I would like to delve a little deeper into quantitative text analysis and natural language processing.

What time period are you looking at?

Which period I'm looking at also depends on the type of algorithm I'm going to use. There are several to choose from. I'm glad that we have two computer scientists in the INF project with whom I can talk about such things. Once I know what is technically possible, I can better estimate how many documents I can analyse and how much pre- and post-processing will be necessary.

Will you limit your analysis to one area of social policy?

I think I will not only look at social policy speeches, but also consider other areas. In determining the party position, I would like to move away from the classic division into left and right - I have in mind a double scale with a libertarian vs. authoritarian and a transverse free-market vs. social justice dimension. My work in the CRC could possibly also benefit from such a classification, as a more precise determination of the parties' position could also provide better insight into the corresponding influence on social policy. In this way, I hope to be able to create further positive synergy effects between my dissertation and my project work.

Hannes Salzmann
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57061

Mai Mahmoud
Mai Mahmoud
Before her Master's in International Relations, Mai has worked for Egyptian NGOs focusing on social policy and human rights. For her PhD, she now wants to study the influence of International Organisations on health policies of countries in Northern Afric

You did your Bachelor Degree at the British University of Egypt. Why did you choose this university back then?

I had a couple of options, but the British University was the most research oriented and its cohorts of students were smaller. Additionally, it offered me the opportunity to earn a certificate with Loughborough University. The programme tried to accommodate both the Egyptian and British systems. It included a prep year and three years, but it was a four-year study program. It was really diverse and covered the politics of all major regions of the world.

Did you start your Master’s programme straight after you had finished your Bachelor?

No, I wanted to gain some work experience first and I had an inclination to do something related to development. That’s why I joined NGOs focusing on humanitarian and developmental issues in Egypt. I worked with refugees in different spheres, I gave legal advice, and was counselling survivors of sexual based violence as well as case management for children facing social or security problems. After that 2-year-period I felt I was ready to go back to university and started my Masters programme in Bremen.

Why did you chose Bremen for your Mater’s?

Well, I got accepted at different universities for different programmes – studying in the UK was an option, but at that time the Egyptian Pound has lost much of its value so that the programme fees in the UK became pretty much unaffordable. In the end, I chose International Relations in Bremen because I have heard a lot of good things about the city and its university and the IR programme was very research oriented, interdisciplinary and fit my interests in NGOs, IOs and development.  In addition, the program was tailored to those who wants to continue in academia which was something on my mind from the beginning.

What did you write your Master’s thesis on?

It was about the labour market changes and the role of the crony capitalism and neoliberalism in Tunisia after the Arab Spring. Crony Capitalism is not very known terminology but another equivalent is patrimonial capitalism, where the state and the business sector are intertwined through personal relations. Before the revolution the regime has used this crony capitalism to run large parts of the economy. There was a lot of research about the effects of crony capitalism on the economy, but not much about its effects on the labour market and unemployment. That was what I looked into. It was hard due to corona and the travel restrictions – I could not do as much field research as I had planned to do.

What was your main findings?

Crony capitalism had a negative impact on labour market in Tunisia. This is due to its focus on non-productive sectors (that were an interest to crony system) and informal workers. As a result, it deprived the youth with university degrees from finding formal jobs adequate to their qualifications and deteriorated job creation. In addition, it did not give a room for small business to thrive due to competition with monopolies. All this contributed to increasing rates of unemployment. This impact was still significant after the revolution (despite the democratic transition and regime change). Until today, crony capitalism plays a role in employment; monopolies created by cronies employ family members similar to the pre-revolution period. Similar practices are continuing and negatively affecting fair chances to find formal job opportunities. 

Now you are investigating something different: health systems. Have you had an interest in health systems before?

Yes, the link of social policy and development matches my interests very well. I was working as a student assistant in this project for one year already. During this period I was able to co-author a working paper on the introduction of health care systems. I worked as a student assistant in other CRC projects, which brought my interest and attention to different social policies during my master studies. I was specifically interested in the health systems developments. Additionally, I had the idea of doing a PhD on my mind, I wanted to continue in this direction. The fact that the project has a quantitative focus is very interesting to me – I have done some work in this area but I want to acquire much more knowledge about quantitative methods.

What will your role be in the project?

I will focus on the data collection and analysis, besides some administrative tasks like managing student assistants and the social policy country briefs series. In regard to the data collection, we are now collecting data on the legislation throughout the years. In the first phase of the CRC, the project was looking at the health systems at their point of introduction. Now we want to analyse how these systems have developed over time – which social groups are covered and which scope of benefits are provided. And in order to do this, we have to collect the health care legislation texts. After that we want to use artificial intelligence to further collect all the body of legislation as it will take time manually. The data will be analysed quantitively using regression and network analysis.

Have you got plans for your PhD thesis already?

Yes, although it's not quite complete. I want to look into the role of International Organisations in the development of health care systems, especially in the Global South (especially in the Middle East and Africa). It will be difficult to access data, but I think it's worth the effort: There is not much literature on this region and it would be great to contribute to filling this gap. I would like to focus on the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the International Monetary Fund and their influence on countries in North Africa.

How about your plans for the future after your PhD: Would you like to stay in academia or would you like to go back to work for NGOs?

I would like to mix both – research and policy advice. I would like to be teaching in the future and also use the knowledge I gain during my PhD to work as a policy advisor focussing on social development.

Mai Mahmoud
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57079

Dr. Jakob Frizell
Dr. Jakob Frizell
Jakob is an expert in peace and conflict research. In his doctoral thesis, he investigated whether and how governments have made wealthy population groups pay for the costs of war.

Jakob, you have specialized in the area of the political economy of armed conflicts. What has sparked your interest in this topic?

I have always had this interest, coupled with an interest in poverty and development. From an early age I got this realisation that there might be a connection between conflicts and underdevelopment. That sparked my academic interest. When I decided to go to university in Lund, I thought: Let’s start out with what I found to be the most interesting course of all to see if that is fun and then continue in that direction. So I started with a peace and conflict studies course in Lund.

Was that during your Bachelor or Masters programme?

During my Bachelor programme. In Sweden, you can pick and choose courses as you want, so I picked peace and conflict studies. And it was even more interesting than I had thought. It wasn't a big plan but in the end it got me into the trajectory of studying peace and conflict.

Did you then specialise in this field during your Masters?

I studied in a – some may say: weird - reverse order. I specialized very much in peace and conflict studies during my bachelor's and also pursued some studies in economic history as I am very much interested in these big political economy questions and secular developments of states. But then I chose a rather broad political science masters, which was very good because then I really got to know the wider theoretical tools of political science. But my passion has always been peace and conflict research, political economy and economic history.

You then did you PhD, and your doctoral thesis has a catchy title: "making the rich pay for the war". Did or do the rich really pay for the war?

Well, the short answer is that they used to do, but they don't do anymore.

I studied in Lebanon for a semester, where I realized that post-conflict society is not only about ethnic animosity, but also a lot about the social and economic issues that come in the aftermath of a conflict. At the same time, I started reading up on this big political economy and historically focused literature based on the experience of total war in Europe and North America. It really fascinated me to see that this war triggered an expansion of progressive taxation and enormous redistribution from the rich to the poor. There were very strong fairness arguments that pushed in this direction. What I learned from Lebanon was that the fairness demands or notions of unfairness were as strong as for example in France during the Second World War. That triggered my interest. I wanted to see if I could apply these theories based on European and North American World War I and World War II developments to the contemporary world and to civil conflicts as well.

To get back to your question:  What I found was that in fact, you could see very much the same patterns during the Cold War in developing countries all over the world. Namely that wars - whether civil wars or interstate wars - trigger demands for redistribution. And demands that were actually followed by governments introducing sometimes astonishingly progressive taxes. In this sense, the rich also had to pay for the war - not only in Germany after World War II, but also during the civil wars in Mozambique or El Salvador in the 1970s and 1980s.

But did you find that this progressive taxation really had a redistributive effect or did the rich manage more or less to evade it?

Well, you pinpoint the main weakness in my thesis right way! I am not an economist, I looked quite cleanly at policies rather than at the economic effects of it. In the end, that's something I would like to do in the future: to see if this actually has a repercussions on, for example, the Gini index. But what I could see with the little data I managed to collect was: often these taxes were actually effective. If it was the richest people who got to pay, that's a more difficult question. But most of the time, these taxes were actually very efficient, and I think that's interesting, given the widespread notion that these taxes are near symbolic especially in developing countries.

You have compiled quite large data sets on the taxation practices of about 60 or even more countries that were affected by conflict. Could you describe these datasets a little more?

In order to investigate the question of my thesis, I really wanted some hard data. You can always questioned the validity of this data, but I want to have some kind of a baseline to proceed from. So my idea was to collect data on top income tax rates for all countries that experienced major armed conflicts in the post-world war II era.

Did you look at the years after conflict or the years during conflict as well?

I actually looked at all years – before conflict, during and after. I picked a sample of all countries that had experienced conflicts, but before 1960 is extremely difficult to access data because it was only in the early 1960s that the IMF started to make detailed reports that often but not always included some information on tax rates. My thesis supervisor Philipp Genschel actually warned me from the beginning to start such a big data collection project, because he knew how difficult this would be for countries outside the OECD. But although it took a lot of time, it was very gratifying. And in the end, I learned much more from reading these old IMF reports than from reading second-hand literature. In the end it was really worth the effort to go down into the archives - even if you spend a week just wasting your time and not finding the data point you're after, you do find some additional things and it enriches you.

In this way I found out about war taxes. Initially I was only planning on collecting data on top income tax rates, but then in these reports I found very interesting taxes hiding in the footnotes, which were dedicated to reconstruction, for refugee aid or for the war effort. In the end, I started collecting data on these kind of taxes, too, and I got a global data sets on these. I used it in my thesis and I'm also trying to publish something on that separately now. The origin of this dataset was somewhat of a random discovery. But with it, I can answer some important questions about the political economy of war-affected countries.

This sounds like a perfect preparation for the work you will be doing here at the CRC because such thorough data collection is at the heart of most of our projects. Which leads me to the next question: What made you come to Bremen?

I have been working a little bit with Laura Seelkopf, who was on the CRC team in the first four years, so I became aware of all this massive data collection that was going on here. I then talked to Carina Schmitt who told me a lot about her project, and this sounded very interesting: After four years only focusing on taxes, I felt done with it. But I did not want to let go the political economy and policy consequences of conflict. So when Carina basically offered me on a plate this fantastic data that you had on social policies and the possibility to look at the connection between civil wars and social policy, I thought that this was an ideal continuation of my PhD research. Academically there was not much to think about, it was a fantastic opportunity.

What is your role in project B10 now?

Obviously I am not the social policy expert, I will leave the lead on that to others. My expert knowledge is on civil wars and contemporary conflicts in general. Therefore, I think, I will take responsibility in the conflict side of things, particularly when it comes to civil wars. And I will do a case study on Angola, which I've been working on a little bit before, which is going to be really exciting. I really like the ambition in this project of mixing macro analysis with the case study approach. I'm also trying to assemble a data set that somewhat more accurately than what now exists measures the intensity of contemporary wars. That's the ambition, and hopefully we can achieve some “revolutionary” analysis on the policy effects of war.

What are your plans for your academic career in general?

First and foremost I hope that I get the chance to continue to spend a lot of time doing empirical research, and to be able to combine the said interest in the big questions of political economy and state development with the actual issues on the ground of war-affected countries - always with some kind of normative grounding. Right now, I'm just super happy that I have for years ahead of me where I can focus full heartedly on these issues.

Dr. Jakob Frizell
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58602

The CRC project directors have met with the Dean and the Managing Director of the BIGSSS to discuss the structured training programme that will start in September.

On Thursday, the project directors of the CRC 1342 met with the Dean of the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), Patrick Sachweh, and the BIGSSS Managing Director, Christian Peters, to discuss the current planning status of the training of the CRC PhD students.

The PhD students employed at the University of Bremen will become Affiliated Fellows and complete the structured training programme at the BIGSSS, beginning in September 2022. The training programme is initially very work-intensive: the time required in the first semester is about 1.5 to 2 days per week, but decreases significantly in the following semesters.

The heart of the winter semester 22/23 is a) the weekly "Core Theory Seminar", which offers a broad introduction to theories, theoretical approaches and research directions in the dynamics of social policy, and b) the weekly Proposal Workshop, in which the PhD students develop and discuss the topics of their doctoral theses.

In the course of the summer semester 2023, all PhD students will defend their proposal at the Doctoral Colloquium and present it at the BIGSSS Summer Retreat. Besides a monograph, a cumulative thesis is also an option, consisting of three essays and a theoretical framework.

From the second year onwards, the training programme at the BIGSSS will be flexibly adapted to the needs and wishes of the CRC PhD students ("demand-oriented curriculum"). The seminars and workshops will be covered by networks with other institutions at the University of Bremen and external speakers.

The CRC's external PhD students who are employed at the universities in Bamberg and Bielefeld will not become Fellows of the BIGSSS, but they can attend parts of the course programme at their own choice. In addition, they will be invited to the BIGSSS retreat to present the plans for their theses.

Prof. Lyle Scruggs, PhD
Prof. Lyle Scruggs, PhD
Lyle Scruggs from the University of Connecticut is visiting CRC 1342 this week to discuss a question that is crucial to our projects: How can the generosity of social policy programmes be measured more accurately and made comparable?

This week, Lyle Scruggs (University of Connecticut) is visiting CRC 1342 – unfortunately only remotely via video conference – for discussing methodological questions of great importance for the CRC’s own research:  How to measure the generosity of welfare state programmes to facilitate a meaningful international comparison?

On Wednesday Scruggs gave a talk on “Benefit inequality in social benefit rights”, discussing traditional approaches to grasp benefit generosity (e.g. measuring social programme spending per capita or relative to GDP; replacement rates for a “typical earner”) and their shortcomings: Such broad perspectives do neglect the stratification of many benefit programmes that do privilege certain groups or are taking the average wage-earner as the point of reference. For example: The average replacement rate of a benefit programme far from ideal as an indicator to assess the programmes generosity, because the significance of the paid benefit would be different, depending on the household type: A replacement rate of an unemployment insurance of, say: 60% may be fairly comfortable for a one-person household - but poses a difficult challenge for a four-person household with a single earner, let alone single parents.

It will probably never be possible to perfectly map the generosity of social protection programmes using a handful of indicators. However, Lyle Scruggs' work at least tries to move closer to this ideal: his Comparative Welfare Entitlements Project (CWEP) collects wage replacement rates of social insurance programmes in 33 countries and relates them to ten household types (differentiated by the number of persons, earners and children per household as well as by income classes). By comparing the different household types, Scruggs establishes a measure of the inequality of social insurance programmes.

During his presentation at CRC 1342, for a sample of western industrialised countries, Scruggs combined the measure of inequality of their social insurance schemes with their wage replacement rate for the average worker: There is an obvious trade-off between intra-societal equality of benefits and the general generosity of programmes.

The social security systems of liberal welfare states, such as Australia and New Zealand, have a high level of equality with low wage replacement rates. Most other countries have much higher wage replacement rates, but the benefits are very unequal due to the high dependence of the benefit level on wages. Denmark is an exception here with relatively high equality at relatively high wage replacement rates. Looking at the development over the past nearly 30 years, the UK stands out: social security benefits have become more unequal and have been cut at the same time.

In a workshop on Thursday, Lyle Scruggs will be working with some of the CRC 1342 projects: Together they will discuss how those projects may define, measure and code the generosity and coverage of social protection programmes in their field of research.

Felix Lanver
Felix Lanver
Felix was already involved in the CRC's research during the first funding period, when he was a student assistant, now he is a PhD researcher in project A02. The focus of his work will be the analysis of unemployment insurance worldwide.

Dear Felix, you have been a member of the CRC 1342 since May 2022 - although that's not quite true. You were already involved in the CRC's work during the first funding phase and even published a paper. What was your role back then?

At that time, I was a student assistant in project A02. One of the project's tasks was to analyse work injury programmes worldwide, which resulted in the Global Work-Injury Policy Database that Nate Breznau and I created.

So you looked up the legal texts on work injuries for all the countries in the world?

Yes, which involved the first introduction of the programmes in each country. In some cases it was not so easy. Sometimes a law was published but not implemented in practice. So in a second step we had to check whether the law had actually come into force or was just a paper tiger.

The work also resulted in a paper in an edited volume of the CRC series.

That's right, Nate Breznau and I looked at the determinants of the initial introduction of work injury laws. It turns out that state formation accelerates the introduction of work injury coverage, which is especially true for work injury insurance. Democracy also plays an important role, as do proximity effects.

It is rare that student assistants are so strongly involved in the research process.

Absolutely, I thought that was really great of the whole team and especially of Nate, that he took me under his wings and then also gave me the opportunity to carry more responsibility. This gave me insights into how the scientific publication process works: from the first workshops, where you agree on the methods, to the final proofs when the paper is ready to go to press.

Did that encourage you to continue working in science?

Very much so. I realised how much I like science and that I want to continue with it.

The start of the CRC's second funding phase came at a perfect time in that respect.

Yes, sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time: I finished my Master's degree at the end of March 2022, so the transition to the position in CRC 1342 was almost seamless.

What have you been studying?

I was in the double-degree programme "European Labour Studies and Social Policy" - a cooperation between the University of Bremen and the University of Milan. I spent one year in Bremen and one year in Milan. Before that I had studied Integrated European Studies in Bremen. Towards the end of my Bachelor's degree, I took a seminar on international social policy with Carina Schmitt. And it was through Carina that I got my job as a student assistant in A02.

What is your role in the current A02 project? Are you still working on work injury programmes?

I'm mainly working on unemployment insurance now. My task is first to collect and code data, with a stronger focus on generosity and coverage. The field of investigation will be nowhere near as large as for work injury programmes, as there are far fewer countries with unemployment insurance. There will certainly be unique challenges, such as how to eventually code the data and harmonise it with the WeSIS database.

Sure, but it must be appealing for you to look more closely at how the systems are designed in phase 2, beyond the implementation dates.

Absolutely! That has to be done in the second phase, and it will reveal completely different, interesting aspects. In social policy research, you often work with classic categorisations, e.g. the Three Worlds of Welfare, but what is often missing are questions and answers regarding coverage and generosity of the systems. If you want to analyse social policy, but you don't have this kind of data - which is especially the case in the Global South, and even more so with historical data - then you are facing a research gap. And from that point of view, it is particularly exciting to now be working in the forefront to fill this gap.

Do you already have a topic for your doctoral thesis?

I have a rough plan. I want to look at the path dependency of social insurance and I'm currently researching how the early introduction of social policy had long-term effects on, for example, inequality or political trust. The other question is more specific: how social insurance differs from other types of programmes such as social assistance in terms of state building and political legitimacy. Methodologically, I will probably do macro-analysis. Besides the socio-political content, I am very interested in working more deeply with statistics and quantitative methods.

Felix Lanver
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen

The B12 team
The B12 team
The team, located in Bremen and Bielefeld, is investigating the activities of international organizations during the Covid 19 pandemic. In Bremen, the members reported on initial research results and discussed analytical methodologies.

Project B12 Crisis Management in the Covid 19 Pandemic by International Organizations is led by Alexandra Kaasch (University of Bielefeld), Monika Ewa Kaminska and Kerstin Martens (both University of Bremen). Since June 1, all positions (two 50 % postdoc and two PhD positions) have been filled, so that the entire team was able to meet for the first time in person. The first task was to take stock of initial research on the question: What is the focus of the relevant IOs in the areas of health, labor market and social security? In addition, the team has started to think conceptually about how to operationalize and make measurable the coverage and generosity of services in relation to the impact of IOs.

The B12 team typically meets fortnightly in vodeoconferences. The next face-to-face meeting is planned for September in Bielefeld.

What social policies did Eastern and Western Europe pursue during the Cold War? What influence had the competition between the systems? How did the transformation phase proceed from 1989 onwards? These were questions addressed at the 4th Hermann Weber Con

For the West, the communist welfare state represented a central challenge in the competition of systems. In the competition of systems, socio-political superiority was also supposed to be demonstrated. The end of the Cold War and the end of the pressure to legitimise against the other system were in turn reasons for the welfare state reforms in the 1990s and 2000s in East and West, which were also discussed at the conference.

Six CRC 1342 researchers took part in the conference:

  • Herbert Obinger explained the basics of the relationship between the Cold War, communism and social policy
  • Carina Schmitt and Maria Ignatova-Pfarr gave a presentation on Bulgaria's pension policy during the Cold War
  • Delia González des Reufels gave a presentation on the social policy of the last Chilean military dictatorship during the Cold War
  • Cornalius Torp gave a presentation on pension policy in East and West Germany during the Cold War
  • Lukas Grawe gave a presentation on the legitimisation of pronatalist family policy in the GDR.

The 4th Hermann Weber Conference took place in Berlin from 8 to 10 June 2022. The organisers were the research group "The 'activating welfare state' - a political and social history of German social policy, 1979-2017" at the SOCIUM of the University of Bremen, funded by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung. The conference was financially supported by the Gerda-und-Hermann-Weber-Stiftung.

Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft / FB 08
Universitäts-Boulevard 13
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67200

Dr. Lukas Grawe
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58642

Maria Ignatova-Pfarr
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57057

Prof. Dr. Herbert Obinger
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58567

Prof. Dr. Carina Schmitt
Feldkirchenstraße 21
96045 Bamberg
Phone: 0951-863 2734

Prof. Dr. Cornelius Torp
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