The development of welfare systems was one of the defining characteristics of the 20th century, especially in Europe. However, in times of change, it is important to re-think the concept of the welfare state. The title of the NORFACE transnational research programme on “Welfare State Futures” emphasizes 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.
“Welfare State Futures” (acronym: WSF) is the third major transnational research programme of NORFACE. The European Commission is providing top-up funding via an ERA-NET Cofund grant to this joint research programme.
The WSF programme (2014-2018) has 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 with a two-stage assessment procedure of 191 Outline Proposals and 45 Full Proposals, 15 projects were funded. These projects started their work in 2015. In these projects, researchers from a wide variety of disciplines are working together across Europe, from Slovenia and Germany to Norway and Estonia. More information can be found at the Welfare State Futures website.