In a joint edited volume the quantitative projects of CRC 1342 investigate if and how the global diffusion of a wide range of social policy programmes occurs through different network dimensions.

"Networks and Geographies of Global Social Policy Diffusion. Culture, Economy and Colonial Legacies", edited by Michael Windzio, Ivo Mossig, Fabian Besche-Truthe, and Helen Seitzer, is the CRC 1342’s sixth volume in the Global Dynamics of Social Policy series published with Palgrave Macmillan. On 272 pages the authors analyse the introduction of a wide range of social policy programmes – work-injury insurance, compulsory education, basis adult education, public health care, public long-term care, family policy, and antidiscrimination legislation. They use data reaching back as far as 1880 and look for the influence of global networks on the diffusion of these policies. In this perspective, networks of global trade, colonial history, similarity in culture, and spatial proximity are regarded as "pipe structures," or structural backbones, of the diffusion process.

The overall findings reveal that the importance of international linkages captured by different network types is not homogeneous across the social policies examined. "The findings suggest that spatial proximity is the most relevant network in this regard," Carina Schmitt and Herbert Obinger write in their summary of book. "Geographical proximity implies strong international linkages in many respects such as cross-border migration, cultural ties, and trade relations. Moreover, all these linkages are indicative of intensive cross-border communication, which is widely seen as a main prerequisite for policy diffusion." Interestingly, neither colonial ties nor trade relations have been identified as important explanatory factors.

All chapters of this book also looked at the most important domestic factors that have contributed to the introduction of the respective social policy programmes, since only the interplay between international interdependencies and national factors explains the adoption and spread of social policies.

Below you can find a brief summary of the findings for the individual social policy programmes

Work-Injury Programmes

Nate Breznau and Felix Lanver have identified state formation and democratization processes as key driving factors for the introduction of work injury programmes. Spatial proximity and ties in the trade network also have a positive but smaller effect.

Compulsory Education

Helen Seitzer, Fabian Besche-Truthe, and Michael Windzio found that the cultural similarity network was consistently significant in the diffusion of compulsory education. Colonial legacies and trade networks on the other hand did not show significant results. "Research on education policy diffusion should not ignore economic factors”, the authors write, "but should include cultural factors in addition to the 'usual suspects'."

Adult Basic Education

Cultural similarity has no robust influence in the case of ABE, Fabian Besche-Truthe writes. "All the results lead me to believe in a diffusion process that might not be fully erratic but is also not structured through interdependencies between countries," he interprets his data.

Healthcare Systems

Trade networks cannot explain policy diffusion in this case, Alexander Polte, Sebastian Haunss, Achim Schmid, Gabriela de Carvalho, and Heinz Rothgang conclude. Nor do the links created through cultural similarity and colonial ties offer a universal explanation of healthcare system introduction. "Based on our knowledge of healthcare systems around the world, we actually assume that it is more likely the type than the timing of the system introduction that is influenced through transnational policy diffusion networks," the author team writes. The introduction of healthcare systems mainly occurred in economically prosperous countries before WWII, the effect of GDP decreases in subsequent periods. In addition, the effect of spatial proximity decreases over time, whereas the effect of trade networks seems to increase.

Long-Term Care Systems

Johanna Fischer, Alexander Polte, and Meika Sternkopf have identified several factors which advance the introduction of LTC systems – noting that we are still witnessing the early phase of diffusion in this social policy field. Aside from geographic proximity, there seems to be no horizontal diffusion via networks. Rather, the introduction of long-term care systems depends on problem pressure (population 75+), political empowerment of women, GDP per capita, and levels of democratization.

Family Policy

Paid maternity leave is confirmed as a showcase for the agenda-setting power of the ILO. Colonial and other imperial relations, Tobias Böger, Keonhi Son, and Simone Tonelli have found, play an important role in the origin of other family policies outside of Western Europe, e.g. the introduction of workplace childcare facilities. Family allowances are spurred by low fertility rates. 

Antidiscrimination Legislation in Employment and Occupation

With the exception of the geographical proximity network, the networks examined by Jenny Hahs do not play a significant role as a pipeline for diffusion. "The influence of ILO membership slows down the effect of ratification more than it supports it," Hahs concludes. "Surprisingly, the influence of the national de jure status of antidiscrimination rights is completely irrelevant. This supports a decoupling of transnational and national regulation in the field of antidiscrimination rights."

Workplace Antidiscrimination Regulations for the LGBTQ+ Community

Domestic factors, mainly the democratization index and the gender equality index have a very strong positive impact on the introduction of antidiscrimination regulations, Helen Seitzer writes in her contribution. "The most interesting result of the analysis is the negative effect of the cultural spheres network. Countries sharing cultural characteristics do not cause contagion, in contrast, it slows the diffusion down. However, this might be the case for only some countries."


Windzio, Michael; Mossig, Ivo; Besche-Truthe, Fabian; Seitzer, Helen (Hg.), 2022: Networks and Geographies of Global Social Policy Diffusion. Culture, Economy and Colonial Legacies, Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, doi:10.1007%2F978-3-030-83403-6

Dr. Fabian Besche-Truthe
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57066

Prof. Dr. Ivo Mossig
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49-421-218 67410

Dr. Helen Seitzer
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57065

Prof. Dr. Michael Windzio
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58629