Archive for the 'Wohlfahrt' Category

Local Governance and Welfare Production – a research course

Locals Politics makes the political system viable. It brings politics to the people. And it is especially the local level, where welfare is provided, and indeed produced. Starting from concepts of welfare, political systems and local governance, the aim of the seminar is to look at the (legal and structural) frameworks, actors and constraints of local welfare production from a systematic and comparative perspective.

Local welfare production and governance arrangements include public and private actors, such as administrations and NGOs. Local administrations usually have two roles in welfare production. First, they provide and distribute welfare (e.g., social security assistance) on behalf of the national or regional welfare system, and second, they produce welfare at their own responsibility (like childcare, and others) according to the principles of subsidiarity. Associations and NGOs often complement welfare provision on the local level, especially in areas where public administrations are weak or non-performant. So, a third sector arises and gains importance. Sometimes associations and NGOs act on behalf of administrations and are agents of welfare provision. Sometimes they offer their own services.

During the summer semester, Students from Petrozavodsk State University and Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen have conducted research projects to explore different aspects of local governance and welfare production. During a joint Fall School from 04-08. October 2021, they discussed and compared their results and present their core findings. In addition, there was a continued discussion on challenges and chances of local governance in providing welfare and better living conditions for their people.

The topics discussed included:

  • Local and interregional environmental initiatives
  • Politics and policies during the Covid-19-pandemic
  • Associations and organizations during the pandemic
  • Social and health issues during the pandemic

Several external partners from Universities, Civil Society and public administration contributet inputs to the discussion. Among others these were:

The Course and the Fall School were hosted by Prof. Elena Chernenkova, Petrozavodsk State University, Natalya Lavrushina, Karelian public diplomacy development foundation, and Dr. Rolf Frankenberger, University of Tuebingen.

The whole project was funded by the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD

Local Governance and Public Wellbeing

Just published is our new edited volume on local governance and public wellbeing. It is one result of a cooperation and joint workshop of scientists and practitioners in local governance from Tübingen and Petrozavodsk.

Well-being is a core concept for measuring the satisfaction of citizens with and in their social, political and economic situations. In particular, it is local conditions that are decisive for such an evaluation—and thus also for local welfare production. In addition to municipalities as state authorities, initiatives, non-commercial organisations, associations and federations are also decisive as important welfare producers. From a comparative perspective, the contributions in this volume shed light on various aspects and dimensions of local welfare production and their effects on citizens’ satisfaction. They examine examples from Russia and Germany, in particular the two cities Petrozavodsk and Tübingen as well as the Republic of Karelia and Baden-Württemberg: the theoretical foundations and social challenges, their attitudes and populations, participatory projects and measures of welfare production.

  • Frankenberger, Rolf and Elena Chernenkova (2020) (Eds.): Local Governance and Public Wellbeing. Comparing Russian and German Examples (Schriftenreihe des Europäischen Zentrums für Föderalismus-Forschung Tübingen (EZFF), Bd. 51). Nomos: Baden-Baden.  ISBN 978-3-8487-6532-4

Continue reading ‘Local Governance and Public Wellbeing’

How equipped are European Welfare States for the digital transformation?

Digitalisation leads to change – of capitalist production regimes and requirements for individuals. How equipoed European welfare States are for this change, was one of the questions my collegues and I adressed in a study for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

If production regimes change, this generates specific risks and problems to be compensated for by the state and society. However, whereas production systems change and adapt rapidly, redistribution systems of the welfare states are quite persistent. As a result welfare state structures come under pressure and have to adjust.

Here, digitalisation essentially has two different impacts on the welfare state.

  • Firstly, Industry 4.0. causes an external modernisation effect on welfare states. By altering production and disseminating information and communication technologies and automation, new demands arise for labour in general and for employees in particular. The processing of these changes and challenges need to be supported by the welfare state.
  • Secondly, the digitalisation of the welfare state redistribution regime is causing internal modernisation effects. This includes the digitalization of welfare administrations as well as the proliferation of internet connections and broadband expansion. It also includes the development of skills and abilities that digitalisation requires in the area of information processing.

But Countries Differ differ widely in the degree of digitalisation in the economy and society that they have already achieved, from setting up and expanding digital infrastructure to building digital human capital, integrating digital technologies into the economy and driving e-government.


Source: Own graph based on data from DESI 2016

One key thus is to establish high speed networks and to promote human capital. And countries differ widely in terms of their welfare state architecture and the core values.  This also affects equality and equity fundamentally. Whereas social-democratic welfare states highlight equality as a core value, the other types are much more stratified and unequal by default, as they foster market forces, or status respectively. So, different challenges occur. For instance, the issue of employment protection in times of decentralised, flexible and digital work in liberal, conservative, and social democratic states will require different solutions.

Types of Welfare Regimes according to Esping-Andersen


Source: Own Compilation following Esping-Andersen 1990 / 1998

If we bring both dimensions together – digitalisation and inequality – then we can see the following:


Source: Own Compilation based on DESI 2016 and Eurostat

By and large, there is a covariation of Digitalisation and Inequality. At least we can see that the most equal states are the most digitalized: the Scandinavian ones. These are especially the social-democratic welfare states. But how come? Does digitalization lead to equality or does equality lead to digitalization? No. To make sense out of this, we should return to the two dimensions of Modernisation. What we can see there is that those countries running ahead, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway are able to use digitalization to modernize internally, to push forward digital agendas (on local and state level). The higher external pressure, the more inequality.

Here, comparison reveals that Sweden has the lowest level of social inequality due to the high redistributive capacity of its social democratic welfare state. It is also proactively and consistently modernising its welfare state internally. Sweden can therefore be considered a pioneer of Welfare 4.0. Similarly, Estonia and the United Kingdom are taking the route of internal modernisation and benefiting very well from this in the areas of connectivity and e-government. However, stronger stratifying effects of post-socialist (Estonia) or liberal (United Kingdom) social security systems do not disappear. In fact, they are increasing if not accompanied by targeted welfare state measures. By contrast, the conservative welfare states of German and France are more strongly driven by external modernisation effects. The welfare state subsequently adjusts to the external challenges of Industry 4.0. Here, the question of recalibrating society’s internal redistribution of labour and welfare benefits becomes one of the key issues. The Mediterranean welfare states of Italy and Spain are facing the biggest challenges. external modernisation effects, especially on the labour market, lead to further stratification of these societies.

What can we learn out of this analysis? If we want to have social equity in the digital age, we need a welfare state that is able to proactively manage its responsibilities:

  • one that makes use of the opportunities of digitalisation for its internal modernisation,
  • offers coverage for the risks of digital external modernization,
  • and tries to better orchestrate its innovation policy with healthcare and labour market policies.

This includes the promotion of digital skills throughout the society, the connection to the internet as a basic human right and an active state that provides a (digital) infrastructure, digital strategy and administration and comprehensive investments in research and education as well as social and technical standards and data protection.


  • Daniel Buhr, Claudia Christ, Rolf Frankenberger, Marie-Christine Fregin, Josef Schmid & Markus Trämer (2016): On the way to welfare 4.0? : Digitalisation of the welfare state in labour market, health care and innovation policy : a European comparison. Berlin: FES, ISBN 978-3-95861-712-4; DIGBIB-Permalink =
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1990): The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta (1998): Die drei Welten des Wohlfahrtskapitalismus. In: Lessenich, Stephan/Ostner, Ilona (ed.): Welten des Wohlfahrtskapitalismus: Der Sozialstaat in vergleichender Perspektive. Frankfurt a. M.: Campus Verlag, pp. 19–58.

On the way to Welfare 4.0?

How does digitalization influence contemporary welfare states? How do they adjust towards Welfare 4.0? We – a group of political scientists from Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen – adressed these and other questions in a study for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.The study is now available online in German  (Auf dem Weg zu Wohlfahrt 4.0) and English (On the way to Welfare 4.0?)

We ecamined both the status of digitalization and its effects on the fields labor markets, health-care and innovation in seven European welfare states: Estonia, Francce, germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

We especially focus on the influences of both, external and internal modernization effects of digitalization on the welfare architecture. External effects are induced by the transformation of industrial production (industry 4.0) into the welfare system, while internal effects are caused by the digitalization of the welfare state itself. Depending on the mode of modernization we can find different (potential) effects on the question of social inequality.


Apparently, those countries do better in terms of equality who actively modernize their welfare state from within and who implement high standards of social welfare. The role model for this is Sweden.

For more results and insights, just download the study:

  • Daniel Buhr, Claudia Christ, Rolf Frankenberger, Marie-Christine Fregin, Josef Schmid & Markus Trämer (2016): Auf dem Weg zu Wohlfahrt 4.0? : Die Digitalisierung des Wohlfahrtsstaates in den Politikfeldern Arbeit, Gesundheit und Innovation im europäischen Vergleich.  Berlin:  FES,  ISBN 978-3-95861-687-5; DIGBIB-Permalink =
  • Daniel Buhr, Claudia Christ, Rolf Frankenberger, Marie-Christine Fregin, Josef Schmid & Markus Trämer (2016): On the way to welfare 4.0? : Digitalisation of the welfare state in labour market, health care and innovation policy : a European comparison. Berlin: FES, ISBN 978-3-95861-712-4; DIGBIB-Permalink =

In addition to the comparative study we also examined the seven welfare states in more comprehensive case studies:


Wohlfahrt 4.0 – Länderstudien

Die Digitalisierung durchdringt unterschiedlichste Bereiche von Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft und Politik – und löst vielerorts Wandel aus. Davon sind zwangsläufig auch die Wohlfahrtsstaaten betroffen. Denn Digitalisierung verändert die Art und Weise, wie Staaten und Regierungen soziale Dienste bereitstellen, wie Teilhabe am Arbeitsmarkt aber auch wie Partizipation in Politik und Gesellschaft organisiert ist oder wie Gesundheitsleistungen nachgefragt werden etc. . Während einige Studien die Risiken der Digitalisierung für den Arbeitsmarkt in den Vordergrund stellen und ein „Ende der Arbeit“ vorhersagen. (vgl. Frey Osborne 2013; BMAS 2015), rücken andere Autoren die Chancen der Digitalisierung für soziale Innovationen in den Vordergrund (Buhr 2015; 2016). Diese könnten durch eine gezielte Koordination und Begleitung des Wandels genutzt werden, wenn aus Industrie 4.0 auch Wohlfahrt 4.0 wird. In diesem Zusammenhang stellen sich grundlegende Fragen:

  • Welche Auswirkungen hat die Digitalisierung beispielsweise auf die Gesundheitssysteme und den Arbeitsmarkt?
  • Wie weit sind die Entwicklungen in den einzelnen Wohlfahrtsstaaten vorangeschritten?
  • Und welche weiteren Entwicklungen sind zu erwarten? Wie reagieren zentrale Akteure in den jeweiligen Politikfeldern darauf?

Den aufgeworfenen Fragen geht eine Serie von Länderstudien nach, die eine Gruppe Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern der Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen im Auftrag der Friedrich-Ebert- Stiftung durchgeführt hat.Dabei wurden der Stand der Digitalisierung als auch deren Auswirkungen auf die Politikfelder Arbeit, Gesundheit- und Innovationspolitik in den Staaten: Estland, Frankreich, Großbritannien, Italien, Schweden, Spanien und Deutschland untersucht.


Am 17.Oktober stellte Daniel Buhr die ersten Ergebnisse der Studien bei einer Veranstaltung der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Berlin vor.

Die Länderstudien finden Sie hier: