The research programme

The Collaborative Research Centre 1342 (CRC 1342) "Global Dynamics of Social Policy", funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) since January 2018, examines public social policy in a global and historical perspective. Its research programme goes beyond previous social policy research in Germany in three respects:
- Geographically, it systematically includes the countries of the Global South to overcome the strong OECD-bias of German comparative welfare state research.
- Conceptually, the CRC is based on a broader understanding of social policy by integrating education policy into the analysis.
- Analytically, it replaces the nation-state-centred analysis of social policy research with an approach that focuses on the interplay between the well-known domestic determinants of social policy and inter- and transnational influences on social protection. Inter- and transnational linkages – violent relations such as colonialism and war, economic relations, migration flows, cross-border communication and international organisations – thus move to the forefront of the analysis. Our central assumption is that it is only through the interaction of national conditions with these linkages that the dynamics of social policy can be adequately explained in a global and historical perspective.

In the first funding phase (January 2018 to December 2021), we used this analytical approach to explain the introduction and spread of social protection programmes from the 1880s onwards. In addition, we started to establish the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS) – a  web-based interactive database on social protection across the world.

In the second phase of the CRC (January 2022 to December 2025), our research will focus on how these programmes have evolved in terms of coverage and generosity after their adoption. We will collect data for these two dimensions of social protection and examine to what extent the development of coverage and benefit generosity over time was shaped by inter- and transnational influences.

The CRC is divided into two project areas: Project Area A consists of six projects that examine the coverage and generosity of eight social policy areas across the globe. More specifically, project area A studies pensions, work injury and unemployment compensation (A02), health (A04) and long-term care (A07), labour law (A03), family policies (A06) and education (A05). The projects rely on a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to illuminate how international influences and domestic factors have shaped the development of coverage and benefit generosity over time. All projects collect relevant data and feed it into the WeSIS database.

WeSIS is coordinated by a so-called information management project (INF), which also provides elementary services (e.g. research data management, eScience services) for the entire CRC. In 2023/24, WeSIS will be made available to the international research community.

The eight projects of project area B examine dynamics related to coverage and benefit generosity in selected countries and regions from all continents. All projects conduct qualitative in-depth studies but some also use quantitative methods. The projects study the impact of cross-border communication and the diffusion of ideas (B01 and B05), international organisations (B09 and B12), economic relations (B05, B06, B09 and B11), migration (B04), violent relations (B10) and pandemics (B12) on social policy.