News

Here you can find the latest updates on the Collaborative Research Centre "Global Dynamics of Social Policy": summaries of current research results, references to our latest publications, outcomes of events and more news from the projects and their staff members.


Simon Gerards Iglesias in Berlin
Simon Gerards Iglesias in Berlin
The online lecture marked the end of his scholarship for a research stay in Berlin.

This year Simon Gerards Iglesias had received a scholarship from the Ibero-American Institute (IAI) of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation for a research stay as a visiting scholar in Berlin. On 16 June 2020, he concluded his scholarship with a lecture on his dissertation project, which he is working on in project B02. In his historical research, Gerards Iglesias examines the relations between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Argentina in the period 1919 to 1943 from a transnational perspective. In addition to the research staff of the Ibero-American Institute, a number of scholars from Latin America participated in the colloquium lecture, which, due to Corona, had to take place as a video conference.


Contact:
Simon Gerards Iglesias
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft / FB 08
Universitäts-Boulevard 13
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67204
E-Mail: sgerards@uni-bremen.de

The team of authors identifies three causal mechanisms that have led to the development of contribution-based social security systems in China.

Since the initiation of reform and opening policies, social protection for urban workers in the People’s Republic of China has transformed massively. Before the 1980s, state-owned enterprises were responsible for protecting workers from social risks such as old age, accidents, and illness. Today, these three areas are organized as contribution-based social insurance systems with Chinese characteristics.

In their paper "Causal mechanisms in the making of China‘s social insurance system: Policy experimentation, topleader intervention, and elite cooperation" Tobias ten Brink, Armin Müller and Tao Liu identifie the causal mechanisms that led to the introduction of insurance schemes in the 1990s and early 2000s. they find three causal mechanisms: (neutral and strategic) policy experimentation, top-leader intervention, and (consensus-based and enforced) elite cooperation. Moreover, the thre authors demonstrate that the presence or absence of complementarity between the international environment and the domestic actor constellation had a decisive effect on how those mechanisms played out in the policy fields of urban pension, health and work accident insurance.

"Causal mechanisms in the making of China‘s social insurance system: Policy experimentation, topleader intervention, and elite cooperation" is the seventh Socium SFB 1342 Working Paper that has been published since October 2019.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Tao Liu
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute of Sociology
Forsthausweg 2
47057 Duisburg
Phone: +49 203 379-3747
E-Mail: tao.liu@uni-due.de

Dr. Armin Müller
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3473
E-Mail: arm.mueller@jacobs-university.de

Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3382
E-Mail: t.tenbrink@jacobs-university.de

Müller met for a video conference with Evelyne Gebhardt, deputy chair of the delegation for relations with the PR China in the European Parliament, and Tamara Anthony, head of the ARD studio in Beijing.

A replay of the conversation is available on Evelyne Gebhardt's Facebook page (German only).


Contact:
Dr. Armin Müller
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3473
E-Mail: arm.mueller@jacobs-university.de

In his contribution, CRC member Ivo Mossig discusses the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for socio-economic development disparities and the role of social policy in this context.

From 6 to 8 July 2020, the research group Transient Spaces and Societies of the Institute of Geography at the University of Innsbruck is organising a digital symposium on COVID-19 as a turning point? Geographic perspectives on spaces, societies and technologies in the pandemic. Ivo Mossig, co-director of project A01, participates with his lecture "Socio-economic differences in development and social policy in times of the COVID-19 pandemic".

Mossig starts from the observation that in times of a pandemic the social security systems in all parts of the world are put to a particularly hard test. At the same time, he notes that social policy and the security systems resulting from it are decisive elements in explaining the different consequences of the pandemic worldwide. Mossig is therefore all the more surprised that geographers have always analysed spatial socio-economic development differences but pay little attention to social policy. In his contribution to the conference, Mossig therefore highlights the interdependent relationship between socio-economic development differences and social policy. According to Mossig, the integration of such social policy research can contribute substantially to explaining social inequalities at different spatial scales. This only becomes more relevant in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Ivo Mossig
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 / 421 / 218 67410
E-Mail: mossig@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Carina Schmitt
Prof. Dr. Carina Schmitt
The book kicks off the series “Global Dynamics of Social Policy” and covers the influence of external actors on social protection in the Global South.

Carina Schmitt’s book "From Colonialism to International Aid - External Actors and Social Protection in the Global South" his published open access. "We have been aware for a long time, that external actors have been important for social protection in these countries from the very beginning," Carina Schmitt explains. "However, we didn’t fully understand how this influence exactly looks like. The book exactly addresses this question."

The book comprises of 14 chapters and takes a deeper look at the influence of colonialism, the Cold War, and internationals donors on the development of social protection in the past and present. It is based on the symposium "Building Social Protection Systems in the Global South. Different Trajectories and the Influence of External Factors" held at the University of Bremen in June 2018. It brought together experts in social policy in developing countries. "We tried to combine different research perspectives and traditions and also scholars from different regions of the world," says Carina Schmitt.

The CRC 1342 and Palgrave Mcmillan launched the book series "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" in order to publish research findings produced within CRC 1342, as well as from external colleagues. The series features studies on the waves, ruptures and transformative periods of welfare state expansion and retrenchment globally. It takes a comprehensive and globalized perspective on social policy, and the approach will help to locate and explain episodes of retrenchment, austerity, and tendencies toward de-welfarization in particular countries, policy areas and/or social risk-groups by reference to prior, simultaneous or anticipated episodes of expansion or contraction in other countries, areas, and risks.

One of the aims of this series is to address the different constellations that emerge between political and economic actors including international and intergovernmental organizations, political actors and bodies, and business enterprises. A better understanding of these dynamics improves the reader’s grasp of social policy making, social policy outputs, and ultimately the outcomes of social policy.

The editors of the series are the CRC 1342 members Lorraine Frisina Doetter, Delia González de Reufels and Kerstin Martens, as well as Marianne S. Ulriksen (University of Southern Denmark).


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Carina Schmitt
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58603
E-Mail: carina.schmitt@uni-bremen.de

In a blog post Anna Safuta and Kristin Noack examine the impact of the corona crisis on migrant care workers in Germany. Their precarious situation gets aggravated.

German households are employing up to 500,000 migrant care workers, most of them Polish, to a lesser extent Romanian, Bulgarian and Ukrainenian. "Their employment conditions are often at odds with legal requirements concerning minimum wages and working time", Safuta and Noack write in their article. But they and their families heavily rely on the income, often generated as "live-in workers" who are staying with the families in Germany for several weeks or month before returning h to their home countries for a given period of time. 

These often precarious working conditions got aggravated during the Covid-19 pandemic and by the measures of the German government and administration, e.g. travel bans, border controls, two-week quarantine obligations.

For their article Safuta and Noack also analysed discussions among migrant care workers in social media. They found, that "[t]he pandemic created tensions between carers who wanted to keep working and those who accused them of putting themselves and others unnecessarily at risk or accepting the unacceptable."

Read the full article "A pandemic, and then what? The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on migrant care workers in Germany" at Routed Magazine.


Contact:
Kristin Noack
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58604
E-Mail: knoack@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Anna Safuta
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58597
E-Mail: anna.safuta@uni-bremen.de

Homes and care services are highly affected by the pandemic. Nearly half of the services report that outpatient care is at risk.

A nine-member team from the Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP) and the SOCIUM Research Centre Inequality and Social Policy, led by Karin Wolf-Ostermann and CRC member Heinz Rothgang, conducted a nationwide online survey in outpatient and inpatient nursing facilities. Data are now available from 701 nursing services, 96 semi-inpatient and 824 residential institutions.

Nursing homes, as well as nursing services, are affected to a high degree by COVID-19 cases, both among employees and among those in need of care. Based on data from the Robert Koch Institute for May 5, 2020, more than 60 percent of deaths nationwide are attributable to residents of nursing homes (49 %) or clients of outpatient care services (12 %) - their share of all infected persons is only 8.5 percent. It is remarkable that 80 percent of all nursing homes had no confirmed COVID-19 cases. The cases are therefore concentrated in a few facilities, but these are then usually severely affected.

Almost every fifth nursing home and every tenth outpatient nursing service is affected by cases of employee illness. The proportion of sick people is six times higher among employees in nursing homes than in the normal population, and twice as high among employees in outpatient nursing services.

About half of all nursing services and more than two thirds of all nursing homes report staff absences of up to 10% due to the corona virus. In one sixth of the nursing homes, the absence of personnel is even more than 10%. Bottlenecks with regard to personal protective equipment for employees or surface disinfectants were originally very large. In the meantime, the situation has eased somewhat, although one in four nursing services and one in six nursing homes still complain about too little protective equipment.

Up to now, nursing homes have been the main focus of media coverage. However, just under half of all outpatient services report that the care of those who have been cared for up to now is at risk, unstable or even not guaranteed. "The fact that so little attention is being paid to home care is worrying in light of this," the report states.

From the perspective of the research team, the survey reveals the following: In order to be able to guarantee the reliability of care, the demands of care services and inpatient facilities must be met. This includes nationwide and practical recommendations for action, a permanent adequate supply of protective and disinfectant agents, systematic and regular testing of residents and staff, as well as better remuneration for nursing staff and improved staffing.

You can download the full report on the results of the survey of care facilities during the Corona pandemic here (German only)


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58557
E-Mail: rothgang@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels (photo: Steven Keller)
Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels (photo: Steven Keller)
Delia González de Reufels explains in an interview why Latin America has become the hotspot of the Covid 19 pandemic and how the countries are pursuing different strategies to cope with it.

The Covid-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly in Latin America. What's your take on the situation?

The WHO has only recently declared Latin America the new hot spot of the pandemic, and the situation is really frightening. Unlike in Ecuador, where the first case occurred as early as the end of February in connection with a visit to a relative of a woman living in Madrid, corona infections were not recorded in many countries until mid-March. This meant that people generally had more time to prepare for the outbreak than Europe and the USA, for example. However, this valuable time was often not used or could not be used.

How do you explain this?

It may sound trivial, but one of the explanations is that in the face of an impending pandemic, it is not possible to suddenly remedy all the failures of the past in the health sector. The Corona crisis exposes the weaknesses of health systems and general infrastructure, as well as the extent of corruption. At the same time, the crisis exacerbates existing social inequality, political problems and tensions. To name but one infrastructural shortcoming: not all households are supplied with drinking water everywhere. Those who have to fetch water meet neighbours there and will inevitably come into contact with many people. Decades of cutbacks in the health sector - and Mexico is a good example of this - also have a direct negative impact. In Mexico, public spending on health has remained the same despite a growing population. For years, they have amounted to just under 3% of the national budget. If you compare this with the expenditure of other countries in the hemisphere, only Guatemala and Venezuela spend less on health. This is in stark contrast to the importance Mexico used to attach to the health sector. After all, the country had invested heavily in public health and social security since the 1940s.

Another reason why the pandemic has hit many Latin American countries so hard is the populism of individual governments. Here, no attempt was made to counter the pandemic in a timely and targeted manner; rather, the danger of the corona virus was played down for a very long time. This also applies to Mexico. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador briefly reached into his jacket pocket at a rally in response to a question and took out two images of saints. He held them up and claimed to feel well protected. He explained that nothing could happen to him. In doing so, he actually evaded the question of government measures against the pandemic and gave the simple Mexicans the signal to be one of them; he did not concern himself with the scientific findings on the new virus. Recently, he has again refused to be tested for Covid-19 because he shows no symptoms. At the same time, the President signals: "This government sees no reason to do anything and, for example, to increase the testing capacities. We can see the terrible consequences of this attitude these days.

The virus has also spread with dramatic consequences in Brazil, where the pandemic as a whole was negated by President Jaïr Bolsonaro. The province of Amazonia, which is medically undersupplied, has suffered a dramatic loss of life, particularly among the indigenous populations. But even in a city like Sao Paulo, graves have become scarce in recent days, and the cemetery administration has been instructed to exhume those who died a long time ago and to store the bones in containers until further notice. This should make room for the many new dead. At the same time the true dimensions of the crisis are being obscured. The decision taken by the Ministry of Health to no longer publish infection numbers speaks for itself. However, it could not be maintained because it was criticised equally strongly at home and abroad. And Mexico did not always provide all the figures either, as was shown by the reports of medical personnel. These staff were often unable to reconcile their own observations with the figures published for the capital city of Mexico, for example.

Are there any counter-examples, i.e. governments in Latin America that have taken the crisis seriously and adopted good practice from other countries?

In the CRC's project B02 we look at Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, which are considered pioneers in the field of social policy and public health. And indeed, all three countries took far-reaching measures at a very early stage that fit in with what we know from Europe and are obviously oriented towards these instruments. However, in the southern hemisphere, the virus broke out in the autumn and the peak of the outbreak will be in winter. That will shape the crisis, but all three countries are operating quite successfully:

For example, since the first case was reported in mid-March according to official authorities, Uruguay has had surprisingly low infection rates and few deaths. According to official figures, the death rate here is 0.65 per 100,000 inhabitants. This is mainly attributed to the good condition of the health system, in which governments have continuously invested over the last ten years. The early closure of borders, schools and air traffic and the banning of major events may also have been decisive, but there were no curfews. Now, gradual relaxation is to take place, and the low infection rates have encouraged the government of President Luis Lacalle Pou to do so.

The situation is somewhat different in Chile, where almost 3000 people have died so far. Strict initial regulations continue to apply here, schools and universities remain closed. Santiago residents are only allowed to leave their homes two days a week, and then only with a pass and to do their shopping. These strict
Regulations affect the precariously employed particularly hard and are also problematic because they have fallen in a period of violent protests. In the social media it has already been suspected that the virus would suit the government of Sebastián Piñera. Unemployment, which is already rising, is further increasing social inequality, while at the same time the infection figures are still at a high level, so that easing is unlikely to be announced in the foreseeable future. The peak of the corona crisis is also still to come in Chile. Meanwhile, the unsuccessful health minister has been replaced, whose lack of intervention in the pricing of medicines had also been criticised in previous protests.

Argentina has been very successful so far, as the almost 30,500 infections (as of June 14, 2020) show, although the infection figures in Buenos Aires are currently on the rise again. The strict measures that the country has taken since 20 March can be considered the reason for the success in fighting the virus so far. In the field of public health, the Peronist government of Alberto Fernández has acted quickly and decisively. Right at the beginning of the crisis, it had declared its intention to build ten new hospitals in and around Buenos Aires. This was a very ambitious announcement in view of the foreign debt that the country has to pay and which also sets limits on the aid that can be given to the workers. However, it was probably a reaction to the news from China, where, given the dynamics of the outbreak, new hospitals were quickly built and the additional treatment places were apparently needed. Recognizing that urban density, as in Wuhan or New York City, is a major factor in the spread of the disease, the government has paid special attention to the Buenos Aires metropolitan area. The outbreak here has prompted the government to extend the "social distancing" measure until June 28, although other regions with lower infection rates may act more flexibly. For a period of 65 days, La Pampa did not count any new cases, and it was only in these days that the sixth infected person was reported at all, who immediately went into quarantine. So here too we see the application of the measures already practised in China.

Looking at the statistics of reported cases, it is striking that the countries of Latin America are affected to very different degrees.

There is obviously a connection between not testing and not knowing. At present, for example, the number of infections in Peru is rising rapidly, but it must be assumed that the number of unreported cases is much higher, which also affects the number of deaths. People die without being tested. This is also the case in Nicaragua. It is completely unclear how many people there have fallen ill with Covid-19 and how many have died of it. In the death certificates, pneumonia is given as the cause of death because the patients were simply not tested. This also means that they do not appear in the statistics. Instead, the government, which two years ago was the target of massive protests, is declaring that it is following the Swedish model. However, the alleged adoption of the Swedish model is an attempt to hide the fact that they do not have the necessary infrastructure and resources for a different approach.

Mexico had similar plans ...

Mexiko's president had also stated that the crisis would be managed without measures that were harmful to the economy. This is due to the fact that many people in the country are precariously employed or work in the informal sector. What do all the street vendors, the domestic workers do in lockdown? Those who have no savings cannot afford to stay at home. In a federally organized state like Mexico, however, the governors of the 32 states are of great importance, as the Corona crisis has shown. They have ordered lockdowns, closed schools and universities. But in some cases the infection rates were already very high.

What are the economic consequences for Latin America?

Arrangements such as those made by Germany, for example, with very generous support packages for the economy and workers, are something most countries cannot afford. Unemployment is therefore very high, although it is known that the unemployed in the informal sector do not appear in the statistics. As a result, the countries will slide into recession, and then it will become clear whether this will shake the faith in democracy and possibly attract other actors. In Brazil there was already concern that the military could be called in as a stabilizing factor. That would be fatal in a country that has experienced such a long and brutal military dictatorship, which has still not been dealt with.

Are there any other characteristics of the course of the pandemic in Latin America?

An important aspect is that these countries often fail to protect medical personnel consistently. In the long term, this will lead to an erosion of the efficiency of health care provision. There have been shocking reports from the beginning of the outbreak in Mexico City - which colleagues have confirmed to me - when hospital staff were instructed not to wear face masks or the like in order not to unsettle the citizens. There was concern that panic might break out among the population because they might understand that the pandemic is more dangerous than the government claims. The staff is still unprotected now because there is no protective clothing and masks in sufficient numbers. Doctors and nurses report that they have to find it themselves and buy it privately or use masks several times.

The government regards the population not as mature citizens, but as a people that must be manipulated.

Yes, that can also be seen from the fact which countries are prepared to give a precise insight into the figures of the outbreak. In Brazil, there have also been accusations that the situation in Amazonia is verging on genocide. Because indigenous populations are not protected by the authorities from contact with smugglers and gold-washers and other invaders into their territory. The population there was and is medically undersupplied, has no access to resources and no lobby. This is also very worrying.

Absolutely, but unfortunately it fits the priorities of the government.

That's right. Brazil under Bolsonaro aims very strongly at an economic development and penetration of the Amazon at the expense of the population living there. Marching towards a human and ecological catastrophe.

How does the Corona pandemic affect your research?

I wanted to fly to Chile in March for archival work. But I had to cancel the trip.

Travel will be difficult for many more months. What consequences does this have for your project?

We were lucky that we went on archive trips at a very early stage and reviewed and collected a lot of material. But on the other hand, now that we are evaluating our sources, gaps are appearing which we would like to close. The only question is, how can we do this? After all, European collections of sources are now becoming accessible again. But there remain the Latin American archives, which we cannot consult at present. This is definitely a burden, especially since there is no certainty for planning. We cannot assume that we will be able to close the gaps in the coming year. When the archives will be open again and when we can travel is unfortunately completely uncertain.


Contact:
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
E-Mail: dgr@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Gita Steiner-Khamsi
Prof. Dr. Gita Steiner-Khamsi
Steiner-Khamsi, professor for comapartive and international education at Columbia University and at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, is joining as Mercator Fellow for two months.

Gita Steiner-Khamsi, Professor of Comparative and International Education at Columbia University, New York (fall semesters) and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva (spring semesters), will virtually serve as Mercator Fellow in June and July 2020. The host is Kerstin Martens, Institut für Interkulturelle und Internationale Studien, University Bremen, who is co-directing project A05 at CRC 1342.

In addition to providing advisement to doctoral students and providing input in the CRC project A05 "The global development, diffusion and transformation of education systems", she teaches in the GLOBED Erasmus Mundus programme. The initial plan to participate in a two-day international symposium on "Global Dynamics of Social Policy", organized by Michael Windzio and Kerstin Martens, in collaboration with Dennis Niemann, Fabian Besche, David Krogmann and Helen Seitzer, as part of the CRC project A05, had to be postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Steiner-Khamsi's work on transnational policy borrowing, global education policies, and political translation of evidence-based policy advice are directly related to the thematic focus of the CRC project. She has published two books related to comparative policy studies in education and is past president of the US Comparative and International Education Society.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Kerstin Martens
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67498
E-Mail: martensk@uni-bremen.de

The series provides country-specific snapshots of social policy developments around the world. In the first edition Gabriela de Carvalho examines the health care system of Brazil.

The CRC 1342 Social Policy Country Briefs Series presents a systematic account of the establishment and evolution of social policies worldwide. Each issue briefly reports the legal beginnings, characteristics at introduction, major reforms, and current state of policies/systems in a specific country. Each brief focuses on a specific field of social policy making, such as health care or long-term care. Taking into consideration the transnational perspective of the CRC 1342, the series also provides information on the role of Global Actors (i.e. international and transnational actors) in shaping and/or maintaining policies. Compared to other publications summarizing countries’ welfare policies, the Series focuses on historical origins and developments over time in social security systems.

The CRC 1342 Country Briefs Series allows for a systematic and structured way to describe systems and policies, and it is particularly interested in reporting social policy developments in the Global South.

The first issue of the series, in which Gabriela de Carvalho describes the introduction and changes of the Brazilian health care system, is already available for download.

The CRC 1342 Country Briefs Series is coordinated by Project A04 - Global Developments in Health Care Systems and Long-term Care as a New Social Risk. The series is open for external contributions, and more information can be requested through the e-mail below.


Contact
Project A04  - Global Developments in Health Care Systems and Long-term Care as a New Social Risk
CRC 1342 - Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
E-mail: crc-countrybriefs@uni-bremen.de