News from Project B06

In "Social Policy & Administration", 7 CRC 1342 projects have presented case studies of social policy dynamics in the Global South. Their synthesis shows: The concept of causal mechanisms is particularly well suited for analysing such dynamics.

Seven projects of CRC 1342's project area B have published a Special Regional Issue of "Social Policy and Administration": Causal mechanisms in the analysis of transnational social policy dynamics: Evidence from the global south. The main research question the authors address is: Which causal mechanisms can capture the transnational dynamics of social policy in the Global South?

In order to find answers to this question, the authors present in‐depth case studies of social policy dynamics in different countries and regions in the Global South as well as different fields. All articles focus on the interplay of national and transnational actors when it comes to social policy‐making. (The papers of this Special Issue are listed below.)

The key findings of the authors are:

  • Explanations of social policy‐making in the Global South will remain incomplete unless transnational factors are taken into account
  • However, this does not mean that national factors are no longer important. In social policy decision‐making, national institutional settings and actors are key
  • Mechanism‐based research can plausibly trace the interplay between transnational and national actors and its impact on shaping social policy outcomes. The articles identify a variety of causal mechanisms that can capture this interplay
  • The output of social policy‐making is complex and can often not be explained by a single mechanism. Examining the combination and possible interaction of several causal mechanisms can provide more in‐depth explanations 
  • The concept of causal mechanisms can also be applied in comparative analyses
  • Mechanisms can be traced inductively in one case and then be applied to another case.


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Johanna Kuhlmann & Tobias ten Brink (2021). Causal mechanisms in the analysis of transnational social policy dynamics: Evidence from the global south. Social Policy and Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12725

Armin Müller (2021). Bureaucratic conflict between transnational actor coalitions: The diffusion of British national vocational qualifications to China. Social Policy and Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12689

Johanna Kuhlmann & Frank Nullmeier (2021). A mechanism‐based approach to the comparison of national pension systems in Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Social Policy and Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12691

Kressen Thyen & Roy Karadag (2021). Between affordable welfare and affordable food: Internationalized food subsidy reforms in Egypt and Tunisia. Social Policy and Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12710

Monika Ewa Kaminska, Ertila Druga, Liva Stupele & Ante Malinar (2021). Changing the healthcare financing paradigm: Domestic actors and international organizations in the agenda setting for diffusion of social health insurance in post‐communist Central and Eastern Europe. Social Policy and Administration (in press).

Gulnaz Isabekova & Heiko Pleines (2021). Integrating development aid into social policy: Lessons on cooperation and its challenges learned from the example of health care in Kyrgyzstan. Social Policy and Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12669

Anna Safuta (2021). When policy entrepreneurs fail: Explaining the failure of long‐term care reforms in Poland. Social Policy and Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12714

Jakob Henninger & Friederike Römer (2021). Choose your battles: How civil society organisations choose context‐specific goals and activities to fight for immigrant welfare rights in Malaysia and Argentina. Social Policy and Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12721


Contact:
Dr. Johanna Kuhlmann
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58574
E-Mail: johanna.kuhlmann@uni-bremen.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

Project B06 has published a special issue in "Global Social Policy": In 7 articles, B06 members and guest authors analyse the role of international actors in the introduction of social policy concepts in post-Soviet states.

The authors of this special issue examine how the transfer of social policy concepts - and subsequently learning - takes place at the national and local level in the post-Soviet region. They focus on the question of which international and national actors are involved in this process. They analyse the interaction between international organisations (IOs) and national governments, between IOs and national experts, and between IOs and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The four members of the CRC project B06, Andreas Heinrich, Heiko Pleines, Gulnaz Isabekova and Martin Brand, have contributed to this issue.

In his article "The advice they give: Knowledge transfer of international organisations in countries of the former Soviet Union", Andreas Heinrich reviews the assumptions in the literature about the neoliberal agenda ('Washington Consensus') promoted by international organisations through knowledge transfer and about the power they supposedly have through loan conditionality to impose their will on countries in financial need. Heinrich uses the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia as examples to examine the advice that IOs have given to reform health care systems between 1991 and 2018.

Heiko Pleines analysed the content of parliamentary debates in Russia and Ukraine for his contribution "The framing of IMF and World Bank in political reform debates: The role of political orientation and policy fields in the cases of Russia and Ukraine". In both countries, both left-wing and right-wing parties rejected cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Nevertheless, Ukraine is one of the largest recipients of IMF loans. Due to the lack of support from parliament, the Ukrainian government retreated to the argument that no other donors were available for the reforms.

Gulnaz Isabekova looks at knowledge transfer at the local level in her contribution. Her article "Mutual learning on the local level: The Swiss Red Cross and the Village Health Committees in the Kyrgyz Republic" focuses on the interaction between IOs and local NGOs, and in particular on mutual learning between donors and recipients of development aid. For this, Isabekova examines the international project "Community Action for Health", which aims to empower rural communities in Kyrgyzstan and promote their participation in health care. Her article analyses the factors that enable mutual learning in practice. According to the article, the decentralisation of the organisation, project management and its handling of failure, continuous contact between donors and recipients of development assistance and the emphasis on the contribution of local expertise are relevant.

In his contribution "The OECD poverty rate: Lessons from the Russian case", Martin Brand emphasises the need to make normative assumptions about poverty explicit when using poverty data. In particular, for cross-national comparisons of poverty rates, Brand argues for a multidimensional poverty indicator so that several facets of this phenomenon and the specificities of the socio-economic fabric of the countries under consideration are taken into account.

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The special issue in "Global Social Policy" emerged from an international workshop on "International knowledge transfer in social policy: The case of the post-Soviet region", which was organised by project B06 at the University of Bremen on 9 November 2019.

Read the entire issue online (individual articles open access):
Global Social Policy, Volume 21 Issue 1, April 2021


Contact:
Martin Brand
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
E-Mail: martin.brand@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Andreas Heinrich
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57071
E-Mail: heinrich@uni-bremen.de

Gulnaz Isabekova
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57073
E-Mail: gulnaz@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de

Today we look at Kyrgyzstan. Here, Gulnaz Isabekova has explored the factors that have facilitated mutual learning between donors and recipients of development aid, based on the example of Village Health Committees.

Village Health Committees: Long-lasting success

For her research, Isabekova conducted numerous interviews with project partners, from which we quote today:

"The study of the Village Health Committees in Kyrgyzstan demonstrates the sustainability of the community-based organizations beyond the end of the project-related funding. Established as part of the Swiss-financed Community Action for Health (2001-2017) project, the Village Health Committees contributed to the prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases in the country. Despite the end of the project-related funding, about 70-80% of the committees - composed of volunteers, mostly local residents - continued their health promotion activities (Interviewee B, para. 125–138, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 2018)."

Village Health Committees in Kyrgyzstan: Red dots

For more information see the publication:
Isabekova, Gulnaz, 2020: Mutual learning on the local level: The Swiss Red Cross and the Village Health Committees in the Kyrgyz Republic, in: Global Social Policy, online first, 28.08.2020

More about the research of project B06: External Reform Models and Internal Debates on the New Conceptualisation of Social Policy in the Post-Soviet Region

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Have you missed some of the previous windows? Click here for the complete CRC 1342 Advent Calendar 2020.


Contact:
Gulnaz Isabekova
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57073
E-Mail: gulnaz@uni-bremen.de

Tuberculosis bacteria (©Juan Gärtner - stock.adobe.com)
Tuberculosis bacteria (©Juan Gärtner - stock.adobe.com)
The spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Armenia is linked to returning labour migrants and their precarious living conditions in Russia.

The spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Armenia relates to the returning labour migrants from Russia. With limited access to healthcare and fear of deportation in Russia, the migrants have only limited abilities to get tested and, when necessary, to receive the relevant treatment. This situation has increased the burden of the disease in Armenia, where most of the patients with drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis are returned labour migrants.

For more information see our publication:
Isabekova, Gulnaz, 2019: The Contribution of Vulnerability of Labour Migrants to Drug Resistance in the Region: Overview and Suggestions, in: The European Journal of Development Research, 31 (3), pp. 620 - 642.

More about the research of project B06: External Reform Models and Internal Debates on the New Conceptualisation of Social Policy in the Post-Soviet Region


Contact:
Gulnaz Isabekova
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57073
E-Mail: gulnaz@uni-bremen.de

Covid-19 cases in Central Asia (Source: Zentralasien-Analysen Nr. 140)
Covid-19 cases in Central Asia (Source: Zentralasien-Analysen Nr. 140)
The CRC project provides regularly updated information on the situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The team around project director Heiko Pleines is compiling and processing extensive data on the development of the Covid-19 pandemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In addition, the dossier provides chronicles at country level on the respective social policy responses to the development of the pandemic. This information is regularly updated and supplemented with analyses by country experts.

The dossier on the Covid-19 pandemic can be found on the pages of the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen. English texts will follow soon.

The analyses of the situation in Russian can also be found on the website of the Federal Agency for Civic Education (in German only).


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de

Covid-19 cases in Ukraine, by region (source: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 232)
Covid-19 cases in Ukraine, by region (source: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 232)
In the "Ukraine-Analysen", experts examine how the Ukrainian government is reacting to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Pavlo Illiashenko and Olena Levenets from the Technical University of Tallinn analyse in their article in issue 232 of "Ukraine-Analysen" how the novel corona virus spread in Ukraine and how the government reacted to it. They take into account data up to 18 March 2020.

The authors conclude that the Ukrainian government and the authorities were relatively passive until March 11: Mainly measures were announced, but only partially implemented, which aimed to prevent the entry of the virus from abroad (especially travel warnings, temperature measurements of people entering from Italy). Tests for Covid-19 infections were almost never carried out (only 43 tests until 11 March).

From 11 March onwards, government measures were significantly tightened. Schools and borders were closed, assembly bans were imposed, shops had to close, local states of emergency were declared. Ukraine only continues to lag behind in tests for infections, which have been carried out many times more frequently in neighbouring countries.

The authors conclude that the government of Ukraine was unprepared, at least in the initial phase of the crisis. This is also due to the fact that the government's ability to act was limited by the dismissal of ministers by the president at the beginning of March. After 11 March, however, there was a strict change of course, according to which the government acted much more proactively than its neighbouring states.

A detailed analysis of the Ukrainian response to the Covid-19 pandemic can be found in the current issue 232 of Ukraine Analyses (in German only).


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de

Workshop with international experts.
Workshop with international experts.
B06 members and other international experts discussed the transfer of social policy concepts from the OECD sphere to the post-Soviet region. The results of the workshop are to be published in "Global Social Policy".

The CRC research project B06 on "External reform models and internal debates on the new conceptualisation of social policy in the post-Soviet region" has organised an international workshop on "International knowledge transfer in social policy: The case of the post-Soviet region" on November 9, 2019.

With participants from the post-Soviet region as well as from Europe and North America, the workshop brought together experts from political science, economics, sociology and other relevant academic disciplines. It aimed to draw a more comprehensive picture of the influence of social policy concepts originating in the OECD world on reform processes in the post-Soviet region. The intensive discussions focused especially on the role that international actors play in this knowledge transfer and on the domestic evaluation of these social policy concepts. For this workshop, knowledge transfer has been understood as an open and multi-directional process with a strong discursive dimension.

The result of the workshop will be submitted to Global Social Policy for a special issue asking how the underlying social policy concepts are perceived and evaluated and in particular which role domestic political decision-makers and the public ascribe to Western reform models. At the same time, the special issue wants to look at a broad range of actors (not only at international governmental organizations, but also at relevant non-governmental organizations and international experts). Consequently, the focus of the analysis lies on the main actors during the (still ongoing) redesign of the post-Soviet welfare systems. The contributions for the proposed special issue come from different disciplinary traditions, but they converge in their basic focus on the international knowledge transfer and on the domestic evaluation of the related social policy concepts.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de

The Russian government has recently decided to raise the retirement age and VAT. CRC member Martin Brand analyses whether these decisions were necessary and what social disruptive force they could unfold.

Value-added tax in Russia is to rise from 18 to 20 percent. But it is above all the pension reform that moves people in Russia, writes Brand: The regular retirement age is to rise from 55 to 63 for women and from 60 to 65 for men. If you look at life expectancy, especially of Russian men (67.5 years), it is obvious that this reform is extremely unpopular: according to a survey, 92 percent of the population are against it. Protests are already taking place on online platforms and in the streets.

On the other hand, the reform seems inevitable: the pension fund is chronically in deficit, in 2018 the equivalent of 17.7 billion euros will be missing, 40 percent of revenues will come from the state budget. "This tension between economic and social factors," writes Brand, "builds the background of the debate about Russia's pension system reform - at the latest after the World Cup". 

Further information:
The detailed article for the Federal Agency for Civic Education


Contact:
Martin Brand
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
E-Mail: martin.brand@uni-bremen.de

Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 103
Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 103
Gulnaz Isabekova published her account of Armenia’s, Azerbaijan’s and Georgia’s healthcare systems in Caucasus Analytical Digest: Healthcare professionals move from rural to urban areas, limiting the rural population’s access to health care services.

Rural areas in the Southern Caucasus region suffer from a growing shortage of healthcare professionals, Gulnaz Isabekova of CRC 1342 describes in an article recently published in Caucasus Analytical Digest #103. Doctors, mid-level professionals and midwifes move to urban areas or migrate to Post-Soviet countries where they seek and find higher salaries, better working conditions and professional development opportunities. The uneven distribution of healthcare workers jeopardizes the rural healthcare systems and the quality of the services.

Isabekova describes a mismatch between the large number of medical school graduates and the number of vacant positions in rural areas. The governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia should create stronger incentives for healthcare professionals to work in rural areas. According to Isabekova potential incentives include faster promotion tracks, extra training, fellowships, grants and bonuses to salaries. Also the number of mid-level professionals needs to be increased and their training should be strengthened. This may ensure at least access to basic services.


Further information:

Gulnaz Isabekova (ed.) (2018): Access to Healthcare, Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 103

Gulnaz Isabekova (2018): Healthcare Workers in the Southern Caucasus: Availability, Migration and Patients’ Access to Healthcare, in: Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 103, pp. 6-17, DOI: 10.3929/ethz-b-000269801

The publication is available online.


Contact:
Gulnaz Isabekova
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57073
E-Mail: gulnaz@uni-bremen.de

Oleksandra Betliy, external country expert of the SFB 1342, has published her analysis of the Ukrainian pension reform in Ukraine-Analysen. Betliy concludes that further reforms of the judicial and financial systems are necessary.

The average pension in Ukraine is one of the lowest in Europe, while state pension obligations are very high in relation to GDP. In the past 15 years there have been several reforms of the deficient Ukrainian pension system, the most recent in October 2017.

Oleksandra Betliy works as an external country expert for the CRC "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" and has analysed the pension reforms in Ukraine. She has published her results in the current issue of Ukraine-Analysen. She concludes that the reform approaches are promising, but that long-term success will depend on economic growth and reforms of the judicial and financial market systems.

Oleksandra Betliy has been a Leading Research Fellow at the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting in Kiev since 2002. Her research interests include fiscal policy and tax forecasts as well as social issues, including health and labour market policy. As a country expert at the CRC 1342, she cooperates primarily with project B06 "External reform models and internal debates on the new conceptualisation of social policy in the post-Soviet region".

The Ukraine-Analysen are published jointly by the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen, the Centre for East European and International Studies, the German Association for East European Studies, the German Poland Institute, the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies and the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de