Project B10 (2022-25)

Armed Conflict and Dynamics of Social Policy

The effect of wars on the dynamics of social policies has been discussed and increasingly analysed in the welfare state literature for Western industrialized countries in recent years. However, the relationship between armed conflicts and welfare state development has hardly been studied for other regions of the world. Moreover, previous research has not systematically distinguished between the effects of different forms of conflict. In this project, we therefore investigate the impact of different conflict types, such as interstate wars, civil wars, and the Cold War, on the generosity and coverage of social policies in a global perspective. The focus is on old-age security, the health care system, as well as on family, unemployment, and war victim benefits. We argue that all violent conflicts tend to negatively affect social policies in the short run, leading to cuts in the scope of generosity and restrictions in the degree of inclusiveness. The medium- and long-term consequences of war, on the other hand, vary (i) in dependence of the type of violent conflict, (ii) in the intensity of the conflict, and (iii) in domestic contextual factors such as the level of economic development.

We examine the impact of armed conflicts on the coverage and generosity of social policies from World War I, as the primordial catastrophe of the 20th century, up to the present. We distinguish between the war preparation phase, the short-term effects on social policies during the conflict phase and the medium- and long-term consequences after the end of the conflict. The influence of interstate wars, civil wars, and the Cold War on social policies is examined quantitatively for a global sample, and in-depth analyses are conducted for selected countries (Angola, Bulgaria, Germany, Peru, Serbia/Yugoslavia). These case studies reconstruct in detail the social policy decision-making processes in different conflict phases and for different conflict types.