NORFACE set up its third major transnational research programme Welfare State Futures to encourage re-thinking about the concept of the welfare state. The development of welfare systems was one of the defining characteristics of the 20th century, especially in Europe. However, in times of change, the concept of the welfare state may need to be reconsidered. The title of the programme emphasized that the future is not pre- determined. Countries have choices about how to respond to economic and social challenges, and their choices will shape the future of their welfare states.
The “Welfare State Futures” programme (acronym: WSF) ran from 2014 to 2018 and had three major objectives:
- To advance globally excellent theoretical and methodological disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and comparative research on Welfare State Futures which builds synergetically on a pan-European basis;
- To motivate and support excellence and capacity building for research on welfare state futures on a cross-national basis throughout the NORFACE countries;
- To develop understanding and promote research-based knowledge and insight into Welfare State Futures for issues of societal, practical and policy relevance, with theoretical foundations but worked on jointly with relevant users and experts.
After a joint Call for Proposals process, fifteen transnational projects were selected for funding in 2014. These projects started their work in 2015. In the projects, researchers from a wide variety of disciplines were working together across Europe, from Slovenia and Germany to Norway and Estonia. More information about the projects can be found below.
NORFACE appointed Professor Ellen Immergut (European University Institute) as Scientific Programme Coordinator of the WSF programme. She had the task of increasing the academic and societal impact of the programme and of bringing the projects together to work synergistically. During the four-year coordination by Professor Immergut, various outputs have been produced, including a programme-level scientific document in the form of a Palgrave Macmillan Pivot, a Policy Brief about the key findings of the WSF programme, a successful WSF Final Conference in May 2018, and the animation ‘The Welfare State has a future!’. Various outputs from the WSF programme can be found in the Archive section of this website. They can also be found on the Welfare State Futures website (no longer updated after the end of the programme).
The European Commission provided top-up funding to this joint research programme via an ERA-NET Cofund grant.