Welfare State Futures


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.

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Watch animation ‘The Welfare State has a Future!’