The research programme

Social policy aims to guarantee social rights and create social security. In addition to the market and family support networks, it is a central producer of welfare. In the Collaborative Research Centre 1342 (CRC) researchers are analysing the global dynamics of public social policy. Our research programme goes beyond the previous social policy research:

  1. Geographically, it systematically includes the countries of the Global South in the analysis.
  2. Conceptually, it builds upon a broader understanding of social policy by including education policy into the analysis as an elementary policy area for promoting equality of opportunities.
  3. Analytically, it replaces the nation-state centred approach of social policy research with an interdependence-centred approach, placing and analysing common determinants of social policy in the context of transregional and global interrelationships. Cross-border interdependencies such as trade relations, migration flows or international agreements are becoming central to the analysis of socio-political development dynamics.


The CRC comprises 15 projects and is composed of two project areas:

The six projects of Project Area A mainly rely on macro-quantitative techniques to analyse and explain social policy dynamics in a global perspective. They focus on explaining the (non-)implementation of security programmes and their design in the areas of employment protection and legislation; provision for old-age, accidents or unemployment; health and long-term care; family or education policy.

During the first phase, we are particularly interested in the introduction and dissemination of social policy: which countries were (regional) pioneers and why? Which social policy programmes have been introduced in which order and at what time in which parts of the world? To what extent was the emergence, expansion and retrenchment of social policy driven by international influences or affected by domestic factors?

A central objective of all projects of Project Area A is the development of the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS) on global social policy for the period from 1880 to 2020. WeSIS will facilitate the visualization of social policy dynamics in the form of a global social policy atlas.

Project area B comprises nine sub-projects that apply qualitative, case study analyses to investigate in detail the causal pathways between international interdependencies and social policy dynamics in selected groups of countries. During the first phase, the guiding question is: by means of which causal mechanisms do interdependencies between states interact with national constellations to affect the introduction, diffusion, generosity and degree of inclusion of social policy? And which types of interdependencies - mediated by which national determinants - explain the different consolidation trajectories and scopes of social policy?

A general objective of project area B is to develop general theoretical framework of social policy dynamics, an approach which overcomes narratives centred solely on the nation state. It will do so by capturing the causal mechanisms leading to the emergence of public social policy due to the interaction between national factors with inter- and transnational interdependencies.