Sustainable European welfare societies Assessing linkages between social and environmental policy

About the project

Across Europe, governments struggle to make welfare states sustainable. Yet, policymakers and analysts rarely spell out the conditions for achieving such sustainability. Moreover, while the pressures created by demographic ageing are readily acknowledged, the implications of climate and environmental changes for welfare states have som far not been fully theorised nor adequately explored empirically.

The main purpose of this project is to begin to fill this knowledge gap by asking how researchers and policymakers can tackle issues of social welfare and environmental sustainability in coordinated and mutually supportive ways across established policy fields.

The work will be organised in four work packages (WPs) and carried out by a gender-balanced research team with complementary fields of expertise. This allows the overarching research questions to be explored through a comparative lens and from three different angles with the help of quantitative and qualitative methods.

WP1 asks how the meaning of social welfare sustainability changes if we consider environmental concerns, employing as a starting point the literature on sustainable development.

WP2 examines, using international survey data, individual attitudes on issues related to soscial welfare arrangements and the environment and asks whether we can detect cross-national convergence or divergence.

WP3 explores, based on a comparison of four strategically chosen country cases (Norway, Germany, Italy and the UK), what salience and meaning environmental and welfare state sustainability have across three key government departments (social affairs, finance and environment).

WP4 synthesises the findings from the WPs 1-3 and asks what conclusions we can draw with regard to the overarching project theme. WP4 ensures that cross-cutting issues are adequately discussed. The project will be supported by a scientific advisory board made up of three distinguished international scholars with complementary expertise relevant to the project.

The project is funded by the Welfare, Working Life and Migration Research Programme (VAM), The Research Council of Norway