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.

Greta-Marleen Strorath
Greta-Marleen Strorath
Greta-Marleen Storath does research on long-term care and migration. She recently travelled to Sweden to conduct interviews with experts.

Greta-Marleen, you are writing your PhD thesis on long-term care and migration in Sweden which is why you were recently on a research trip. What exactly did you do?

In March I was in Sweden for two weeks for a first explorative trip, where I met other scientists to conduct interviews and to establish networks. I went to Lund, Uppsala and Stockholm, where I met ten people in total.

What was your objective of this trip and interviews?

In the interviews with the experts, I wanted to compare their perspective with the image of Sweden drawn from the outside. The reason for this is that different images of Sweden are being presented in science. In Germany an almost envious look prevails: Sweden has a very well-developed care system, with a large public sector and a broad concept of care. For a long time there was the assumption that migration hardly played any role in Sweden. Especially in recent years, however, there have been many Swedish studies that go into greater depth and show that a great deal has changed in Sweden, especially in the area of nursing care for the elderly. In the last ten to twenty years there has been a large influx of migrants in care. It is precisely these changes that I find particularly exciting. It was very interesting to hear the views of experts who study this on a daily basis.

How did you know which researchers to approach?

Once through the literature I had read, I also met a researcher from Sweden at the NordWel Summer School in Helsinki: I visited her and she told me about other people who could help me.

How did you prepare for the trip?

I had prepared a guideline for the interviews that I always adapted to the people and their research. The questions were relatively open in order to be able to react to the course of the interview and to modify the questions accordingly. For example, in the first interview we talked a lot about gender equality, which is a central feature of the Swedish welfare state and of great importance for all social policy areas. In the discussion it became clear, however, that gender issues are not so strongly discussed in the area of long-term care, in contrast to childcare and other fields. I incorporated this interesting aspect into the later interviews.

Does this mean that there are many men working in long-term care in Sweden or that gender equality is not such a big issue in that sector?

In Sweden, too, most carers are women. In the field of child care, there is much more discussion about the need to distribute care tasks equally between men and women in families. In long-term care this is not negotiated nearly as strongly.

Is this also due to the fact that in Sweden a lot of long-term care is provided by the state and less by the family?

Yes, the state plays a central role in long-term care. The majority of care for the elderly is provided by the municipalities. It is only natural for people of old age to have someone coming into their homes and taking care of them. Nevertheless, the discussions also revealed that many aspects of care are provided by the families. This aspect is often neglected because this share is much lower than in other European countries. Nevertheless, the family is a central and important pillar.

Were there any particular lucky coincidences during your research?

I met a very exciting scientist in Stockholm who is doing research in a very similar field to mine. I hadn't even planned for him before, but only came across him through a recommendation. We then met quite spontaneously, and it became a very exciting conversation.

Did you transcribe the interviews immediately? Or did you do something different to clear your head?

I always had a small notebook with me in which I took notes, even during the interviews, and then sat down somewhere with it and wrote a post script: What the most important aspects of the interview were, what worked well and what didn't. The detailed transcription will follow now.

Do you already have - before having evaluated the interviews - an idea in which direction your work will develop?

In any case, I know that I will be going back to Sweden in September. What became apparent: There are national policies in Sweden that provide guidelines for long-term care. The municipalities then play a central role in the implementation of these guidelines at the local level. They organise care and translate the national guidelines in different ways.
I definitely know I'm going back to Sweden in September. What has crystallized out of it: There are national policies that provide guidelines for care. The municipalities then play a central role in implementing these guidelines at local level. They organise care and translate the national guidelines in different ways. That is why, after this first research trip, I decided that I will to go to Stockholm first to talk to experts at the national level. I will then select four different municipalities and examine in detail how their administrations work, what role they play in implementing national policies and how they organise and deliver care in different ways. I will probably start with the first municipality in September and then go to the other municipalities next year.

Greta-Marleen Storath
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57068

Fabian Besche
Fabian Besche
During the information day of the University of Bremen, 25 high school graduates visited the Collaborative Research Centre 1342.

25 prospective students visited the Collaborative Research Centre "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" on Wednesday afternoon. During the one-hour event, they gained insights into the organisation and research work of the CRC and the working lives of the participating scientists.

First, managing director Irina Wiegand gave an overview of the structure and topics of the CRC 1342. Fabian Besche and Kristin Noack then presented their research projects in detail. Afterwards, the high school graduates asked questions - they were interested in the research projects as well as in the possibilities that social policy research offers as an occupational field.

The presentation at the CRC 1342 was part of the annual information day for prospective students at the University of Bremen.

Fabian Besche
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57066

Kristin Noack
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58604

Dr. Irina Wiegand
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58508

Prof Dr Frank Nullmeier at the Bundestag Committee for Labour and Social Affairs
Prof Dr Frank Nullmeier at the Bundestag Committee for Labour and Social Affairs
CRC member Frank Nullmeier was consulted as an expert in the Bundestag Committee for Labour and Social Affairs as to whether proposals of the opposition parties were suitable for tackling old-age poverty.

The political discussions about a basic pension as an instrument against poverty in old age are gaining momentum. Even before the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Hubertus Heil, presented a draft law, the four opposition parties each presented their own basic pension concepts to the Bundestag. On Monday, experts were heard in the Bundestag Committee for Labour and Social Affairs, including Frank Nullmeier of the Collaborative Research Centre Global Dynamics of Social Policy.

The central topic of the hearings was whether poverty should be tackled within the statutory pension insurance system or in the area of basic income support. The latter had been proposed by the AfD and the FDP. A major objection to this was that this would extend the basic pension to more and more pensioners, so that a kind of 'combined pension' would be created from the basic pension and contribution-based pension - with negative consequences for the legitimacy and acceptance of the statutory pension insurance. Because: "In the basic security system, the principle of needs-based justice applies; in the social security system, a principle of entitlement to benefits applies", said Nullmeier. "We must separate the two from each other and not mix the legal entitlements. Mixing them up is a great danger - for social cohesion and the legimitation basis of the statutory pension insurance system. The legimitation of the statutory pension insurance would be endangered if long-standing contributors were not "free from the proximity to poverty in old age and to receiving basic income support", said Nullmeier. This problem must be addressed and this would not be achieved by a combined solution, but only by improving the statutory pension insurance system. "If the labour market creates wages that are too low, you can either change the wage system - the minimum wage provides for this - or you have to create systems that are part of the statutory pension insurance system and follow the tradition of pension according to minimum income and pension according to minimum wage credits (Mindestentgeltpunkten)".

The hearing also made clear that an organisational link between basic income and pension would only lead to double bureaucracies and would not allow administrative relief. Against these solutions stood models of raising the incomes of all pensioners to a level above the poverty risk threshold through a new, comfortable form of basic security with correspondingly high financial burdens (Die Linke) and a solution purely within the pension insurance system through an increase in the pensions of all insured persons with more than 30 years of insurance contributions to a pension corresponding to 30 wage credits (Bündnis90/Die Grünen). This would eliminate the need for a basic pension.

The Deutsche Bundestags shares May 6th hearing at the Bundestag Committee for Labour and Social Affairs as a video stream (in German only).

Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58576

The CRC 1342 is looking for a student assistant to work in the project A04 "Global developments in health systems and in the long-term care as a new social risk"

Student assistant (10 hours/week)

The contract is expected to start 01.07.2019, for a period of six months (an extension is welcomed).

The aim of the project A04 is to trace globally the development of different types of health and long-term care systems and to explain the similarities and differences between systems in different countries.


  • Assist with data collection and processing (quantitative and qualitative)
  • Literature research
  • Assistance in organising and conducting international workshops and team meetings



  • Basic knowledge in qualitative and quantitative methods and data collection
  • Background in social sciences with good results (BA or MA)
  • Very good knowledge of English



  • Knowledge of languages (especially French or Arabic)
  • Knowledge of EndNote
  • Interest in theoretical and empirical questions in at least one of the following areas: comparative welfare state research, international relations, international organisations and countries of the Global South


We offer:

  • Insights into one of the major research projects on comparative social policy study in Germany
  • Collaboration in a friendly, interdisciplinary, and multicultural team
  • Possibility to attend conferences and talks of the CRC and SOCIUM
  • Compensation according to the usual rates for student assistants at the University of Bremen
  • To write a MA or BA thesis related to the project, and to be supervised by the project team members


Please send your application with a short CV (in English), a short letter of motivation (in English) as well as a current transcript of records as a PDF document to Gabriela de Carvalho until June 05, 2019, e-mail: In case of questions on the job offer, please also contact Ms. De Carvalho.

What do tolerating electricity theft, agricultural subsidies and the regulation of migration have in common? They are social policy by other means - argue CRC member Laura Seelkopf and her colleague Peter Starke.

CRC member Laura Seelkopf and her colleague Peter Starke from the University of Southern Denmark have edited a special edition of the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, the print version of which has now been published. "Social Policy by Other Means" is the title of the issue, which highlights unconventional forms of social policy and relates their development to traditional instruments of social policy.

Seelkopf and Starke write in their introduction that conventional social policy research ignores important aspects: such as tolerating squatting and electricity theft, church hospitals, and regulating labour migration. According to Seelkopf and Starke, all of these are forms of social policy by other means: a) as functional equivalents of state social policy or b) as measures of non-state actors.

Agricultural subsidies, for example, serve not only to secure food supplies, but also - often above all - to stabilise and increase the household income of the rural population. And if state bodies ignore or do not pursue illegal diversion of electricity or occupation of housing, this can also be interpreted as a measure to achieve socio-political goals without using traditional socio-political instruments.

If social policy by other means continues to be ignored, write Seelkopf and Starke, social policy research risks overlooking important aspects of social protection, redistribution and economic stabilisation. Finally, they outline an agenda with which social policy research can better understand these "other" aspects and integrate them into existing theories.

Seelkopfs and Starkes introduction as well as all other articles of the special edition are available online.

Prof. Dr. Laura Seelkopf
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science
Oettingenstraße 67
80538 München
Phone: +49 89 2180-9086

Dr Alex Veit
Dr Alex Veit
In project B09 Alex Veit works on case studies on social policy in South Africa and Tanzania. On a recent research trip to both countries he took a closer look at their education policies.

Dear Alex, for project B09 you were in Africa. Where exactly?

In March I was first in Cape Town, then one week in Johannesburg and then in Dar es Salaam.

What were your plans for this trip?

At first it was about finding out about the academic landscape. We want to cooperate with local scientists dealing with topics similar to ours. I have gained an insight into who works for what purpose, what they do exactly and where common interests could lie.

Did you specifically address social policy researchers and historians?

The university landscape in South Africa is relatively large, and some universities can play along without problems at our level. Education studies are particularly interesting for us, as are many sociologists who work on education. Or political scientists who specialise in health. As a trained historian, I have also spoken to many historians.

And in Tanzania?

In Tanzania, the University of Dar es Salaam is the country's flagship. It is actually the only university that has a certain amount of resources that make research possible. The other universities and the private universities are basically pure teaching institutions. But in Dar es Salaam there is the legendary Historical Department, which produced groundbreaking research in the 1960s and 1970s. It was there that Marxist historical science was practiced by people known in the scene. This was a place of longing for many historians at the time. There are still many good people there. I talked to some of them and started a cooperation.

What are your first insights into the educational systems of these countries?

Education is a huge promise in both countries: Education can change everything that doesn't work in society. But there are serious differences between the two countries. In South Africa all discourses take place against the backdrop of apartheid and racist inequality. The education system is also considered under this paradigm. The society is very fragmented, accordingly a lot of blame is placed. 25 years after the end of apartheid, everyone is totally dissatisfied. In international comparisons, South Africa's public schools partly lag behind Tanzania, which spends much less money on education and is at a much more difficult stage of development than South Africa, which invests 20 percent of its state budget in public schools. It is especially in the poorest regions that schools are miserable.

In what way?

On the one hand, the results in benchmarking studies are poor, and on the other hand the infrastructure is also poor. Every year, several pupils are killed as they plunge into latrines. The question then arises, who is to blame? Many people say that the ruling party can't get it right. Others point to the unions that protect teachers from having to work harder. Still others blame the whites who send their children to private schools, which is why the public school system falls behind and the good teachers go to private schools.

Where the salaries are higher ...

Yes, there are all sorts of reasons in such a fractured society. Tanzania's society is much more homogeneous in comparison. There are no such clear conflicts. Everyone there talks about development, everyone wants things to go ahead, and they are also reasonably satisfied. A lot is being built, the infrastructure is making progress. For example, the telephone network in Dar es Salaam is often better than in Bremen.

And the schools?

The schools are now free of charge. But almost everyone I have spoken to sends their children to private schools. Many spend a large part of their salary on it because they consider the quality of the public schools to be miserable in comparison.

Was there anything on your trip that surprised you?

I was very surprised to see how closely economists are involved in policy development, especially in education. In Tanzania, mostly through International Organisations. In South Africa it's the local economists. Sociologists and historians are very dissatisfied with this. Because social policy is very much being quantified.

Does this mean that the education system is developing in a certain direction?

Sociologists say that everything is moving in towards privatisation and that there is a political agenda behind it. In Stellenbosch, the leading former Afrikaans-speaking university and one of the country's five elite universities, apartheid has been academically conceived and legitimized. There is a very strong Department of Economics there, and the ANC government is drawing on this very university. I have not expected that at all. This has something to do with the fact that, at the transition from apartheid to democracy, many academics returned from exile, usually radical people, including academics, who were in Britain. They wanted to build something together. At the same time, the World Bank was also massively involved in that phase. There was an international programme to help South Africa get back on its feet. They wanted to build South Africa as a lighthouse of democracy in Africa. So there was an immense rush from all sides. The problem with the radical left and the ANC's exiles was that they were very good at organising resistance, but they were not prepared to govern. But those who were really well prepared were the World Bank people. They joined forces with the Stellenbosch economists. They spoke the same language. There were all kinds of reform promises, including outcome-based education. In principle, this means that each child is supported according to his or her needs and that there is no rigid curriculum. Instead, the teachers develop the material together with the pupils. At the same time, however, at the end of the day it should be possible to measure clearly and comparably which skills the pupils have acquired. This has led to a complete disaster. Everyone was totally confused in a phase in which everything was in a state of upheaval anyway. This huge reform has unsettled all schools, all teachers. There were no more textbooks, no curriculum and at the same time there was a very rigid, authoritarian understanding of teaching at all schools. For decades frontal teaching prevailed, and now suddenly it was going to be completely different. They tried that for a few years, then everything was put back on hold.

How do you proceed now?

I'm going to Tanzania in June for a few weeks. I will do interviews with people involved in education and food policy. I will meet with the International Organisations. They are relatively prominent in Tanzania, much more prominent than in South Africa. I also try to talk to the government and the administration. And then I visit a smaller town and talk to teachers and the local administration. I will not return to South Africa until next year.

Then the CRC is already in its third year ...

Yes, but there is so much literature on South Africa that I have to collect much less data on my own. In Tanzania the situation is quite different. I have to produce more primary material there. I went to South Africa now to understand which stakeholders there write which political agenda. Because there are such close links between the universities and the government, everyone writes with an agenda. You have to be able to assess that. When I go there next year, I will also talk to teachers and school principals to understand how policy actually affects them. After all, reality has several layers.

Dr. Alex Veit
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67471

Prof Dr Tim Vlandas
Prof Dr Tim Vlandas
At the CRC 1342, Tim Vlandas of the University of Oxford presented results of his research on the rise of far right parties in Europe. Economic cultural insecurity play a central role, as does social policy.

On Wednesday, Tim Vlandas, Associate Professor of Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford, visited the CRC 1342 in Bremen. He presented the results of his research on the influence of economic and cultural insecurities on the electoral success of far right parties and the role of social policy in this context. Vlandas had analysed data from the European Social Survey on 24 European states from seven different years.

According to the Vlandas research, both economic and cultural insecurities of voters play a role in whether they decide to vote for far right parties. However, they have different effects on the electoral decisions of different social groups. To briefly pick out two examples:

  • Voters who feel culturally insecure (mostly as a result of increasing immigration and the social discussion about it) tend more to vote for far right parties - above all - and this may come as a surprise - if they feel economically secure.
  • Economic insecurity, on the other hand, increases the likelihood of voting for far right parties only among voters who are not feeling culturally insecure.

According to Vlandas, social policy acts as a buffer: Above all, the success of far right parties is counteracted by generous unemployment benefits, high pension levels, minimum wages and extensive support for families. Cuts - or even stagnation in social policy spending in times of rising demand for support - have the opposite effect.

Michael Schmidt
Michael Schmidt
The Chairman of the Personnel Council of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs discussed with members of the CRC 1342 who is involved in the negotiation of such contracts and which factors are relevant.

Michael Schmidt first gave an overview of existing bilateral and multilateral social security agreements in Europe and Latin America. He then concentrated on bilateral pension insurance agreements that Germany has entered into or is trying to establish with other nations.

According to Schmidt, the closer the economic ties between the two countries are, the more likely it is that a bilateral social security agreement will be successfully reached. After all, avoiding double social security contributions is in the interests of both companies and employees working abroad. However, a high level of economic integration alone is not sufficient, as the examples of Russia and South Africa show: For years, Germany has been trying in vain to reach a social security agreement with Russia, Schmidt said (although he did not explain the reasons in more detail); such an agreement with South Africa seems to be almost impossible, since the social security system there is predominantly organised privately and is therefore hardly compatible with the German system. The more similar the social security systems of two states are, Schmidt said, the more likely it is that a joint social security agreement will be reached.

As a rule, international social security agreements are stable - Schmidt cannot remember any agreement that was ever terminated. The withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union could be a first in this respect: "Should it come to a no-deal Brexit", Schmidt said, "the pension insurance claims of tens of thousands of Britons in Germany and tens of thousands of Germans in Great Britain would also be affected". There would then be no regulation for the recognition of claims acquired abroad.

Haus der Wissenschaft (© Haus der Wissenschaft e.V.)
Haus der Wissenschaft (© Haus der Wissenschaft e.V.)
The CRC 1342 invites PhD students to the summer school "State, Society and Citizen - Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Welfare State Development". The workshops and discussions will take place from 19 to 23 August in Bremen.

The Nordwel summer school aims to stimulate discussions across disciplines and foster innovative cross-disciplinary research on the development of welfare states over time and in a global context.

We invite PhD students from different disciplinary backgrounds to participate in the discussion on the development of welfare states, their preconditions, present status, and how we ought to study them. PhD students present their papers in parallel sessions and get feedback from senior scholars and junior colleagues.

For more information on the programme of the 11th NordWel Summer School, the application process and the call for papers, please visit the dedicated section on our website.


Hubertus Heil and Eva Quante-Brandt
Hubertus Heil and Eva Quante-Brandt
Hubertus Heil was a visiting SOCIUM and CRC 1342 , where the Federal Minister discussed pension reform proposals and the future of social policy research.

Hubertus Heil, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, discussed with members of the Collaborative Research Centre "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" and of SOCIUM on Friday. Topics were pension and labour market policy reform projects as well as the situation of social policy research.

Low pensions and growing poverty among the elderly are a pressing problem that challenges the legitimacy of the public pension system altogether. Heil said that he was eagerly awaiting the recommendations of the Pension Commission, which are expected for March 2020. However, the government could not "not do any pension policy" until then. In connection with his latest pension reform proposal, the introduction of a so-called basic pension, Heil asked the social policy researchers present whether they considered a means test advisable. Frank Nullmeier, speaker of the SOCIUMS and board member of the SFB 1342, said that a means test was not advisable, the scientific community agreed on this point.

According to Nullmeier, the basic pension does not cover the growing group of precarious self-employed people, who, however, are particularly threatened by poverty in old age. Nullmeier introduced the idea of a "digital social insurance" in order to counter their poverty in old age: business premises of the digital economy, e.g. Internet hubs, could be subject to a levy linked to the data volume in order to generate employer-equivalent contributions to the public pension scheme for precarious self-employed persons (similar to the Künstlersozialversicherung). Heil then said that in many cases it was difficult to define who was self-employed, but the concept was interesting.

"As Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, I am dependent on social policy research beyond the time horizon of daily politics in order to identify and solve problems early on," said Hubertus Heil. With the funding network interdisciplinary social policy research (FIS), his ministry has taken an important first step towards promoting social policy research. Further projects are to follow. The Minister did not go into detail on this point. He simply said: "My dream is a DIW for social policy research". The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) is one of the largest economic research institutes in Germany and is a non-profit association funded by the State of Berlin and the Federal Government. Additional means stem from third-party projects and donations.