WelfSOC: Welfare State Futures: Our Children’s Europe

This project was designed to find out how people think about the future of welfare in five European countries (Denmark, Germany, Norway, Slovenia and the UK). Most research on ideas, aspirations and attitudes is concerned with specific topics predefined by experts. The consortium asked a very general question: ‘What do you think the priorities of the [country’s] government should be for benefits and services in 25 years’ time?’ The researchers gave a group of some 35 people in each country the opportunity to discuss and develop the policies they would like to see, with the minimum of direction. The countries were selected to include examples of the most important welfare state traditions in Europe.


It was found that most people:

  • Want the main welfare state programmes to continue, although they have real concerns about cost;
  • Are generally concerned about increasing social inequalities;
  • Want to see more money spent by governments on childcare, training and education, so that young people in particular have better opportunities and society is fairer;
  • Are concerned about immigration and in particular about the importance of integrating immigrants into western societies;
  • Believe that generations should support each other by transferring money between them, with people paying taxes at the working stage of their life to support those who are retired or have commitments to bring up children or establish themselves in work. In richer countries, older people feel that the benefits of the contract may have been directed too much towards themselves.

The project has received a lot of attention from academic communities across Europe and provides a new method for use in attitude research. The consortium also offered policy-makers and governments a method for consulting people on policy issues.

Project links

Research team

Prof. P.F. Taylor-Gooby
University of Kent at Canterbury

Prof. J. Goul Andersen
Aalborg University

Prof. M.F. Hrast
University of Ljubljana

Prof. B. Hvinden
NOVA – Norwegian Social Research

Prof. S. Mau
University of Bremen