Welcome to the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

The European Centre is a UN-affiliated intergovernmental organization concerned with all aspects of social welfare policy and research. Executive Director is Prof. Dr. Bernd Marin.


New Policy Brief: To Make or to Buy Long-term Care? Part III: Quality Assurance to Avoid Market-failure

With the implementation of New Public Management (NPM), market-oriented governance, deregulation, competition and strengthened user-choice eventually reached also the area of long-term care provision during the 1990s. In contrast to the classical neo-liberal postulations towards deregulation, however, both theoretical considerations and the emerging practice across Europe have shown the imminent necessity to increase efforts in quality assurance in the context of competitive markets in long-term care. This Policy Brief dwells on experiences in a number of European countries on existing practices of quality assurance in long-term care delivery and is the final part of a trilogy dedicated to the reliance on markets for the delivery of long-term care. Read more

New Policy Brief of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (OSB)

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Ricardo Rodrigues is one of the co-authors (together with Stephanie Kumpunen and Lisa Trigg, of the LSE) of the newly published OSB Policy Brief, which reviews the literature on the measurement and reporting of quality information to aid the public in choosing health and long-term care providers, provide insights to support future investment in public reporting systems, and summarize strategies aiming to increase the use of reporting by patients and users. This Policy Brief was published as part of a European Commission Seventh Framework Programme project, the European Union Cross-Border Care Collaboration (EUCBCC), in which the European Centre was a partner. The Policy Brief can be accessed here.

New project started: SAVE


The European Centre's new project with funding from DG Employment, SAVE (Social Protection Assessment for Values and Effectiveness), is the first project in the Serbian framework of PROGRESS that deals with the cost-effectiveness and cost-efficiency of the social welfare system. The Centre's first stage of involvement with its Serbian partners has kicked off with a one-week study visit by Pieter Vanhuysse and Stefania Ilinca to visit diverse institutions and experts in Serbia to analyse the structure of care delivery and the progress in deinstitutionalization. For more information contact: Pieter Vanhuysse

New Project: Scoping study on communication for successful cross-border public health information campaigns


The European Centre is part of a consortium that has been selected by DG SANCO to carry out a Scoping study on communication to address and prevent chronic diseases. The consortium is lead by ICF GHK and aims to provide an overview of the key issues on communication to address and prevent chronic disease; identify the differences in communicating about the major risk factors; and identify the characteristics of existing good practice. The focus of the study is on cross-border public health information campaigns regarding the most important risk factors for chronic conditions: tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diet. The study will be completed in the first half of 2015. Contact: Ricardo Rodrigues

Article in Social Policy & Administration: Choice, Competition and Care – Developments in English Social Care and the Impacts on Providers and Older Users of Home Care Services

Long-term care has undergone a series of transformations in England since the early 1990s with an increased reliance on market mechanisms, underpinned by discourses of user choice. More recently, care markets have undergone further reforms through the introduction of direct payments and personal budgets. Drawing on evidence from two recent empirical studies, Ricardo Rodrigues and Caroline Glendinning describe how the new emphasis on choice and competition is being operationalized within six local care markets in England. The article presents early evidence on changes in the commissioning and contracting of home care services; and the experiences and outcomes for individual older people using home care services. The article can be accessed via early view here.

Keynote at the Oxford-Birmingham-KIHASA workshop, South Korea

Pieter Vanhuysse gave a keynote address at the Oxford-Birmingham-KIHASA workshop on Reactions to Structural Population Change in East Asia and Europe. Organized with the participation of the universities of Oxford and Birmingham by the Korean Institute of Health and Social Affairs, a social policy think tank directly attached to the South Korean Prime Minister's office, the workshop focused on social policy responses to declining fertility and included lectures by a host of East Asian demographers as well as Stuart Basten (University of Oxford) and Ross Macmillan (Bocconi University).

Access to Benefits in Times of Crisis


On 25 November Michael Fuchs participated in the Eurofound Expert Workshop on “Access to Benefits in Times of Crisis” in Brussels. He acted as a discussant on the Eurofound Working Paper and reflected on what could be done to reduce the non-take-up gap in terms of administrative measures.

The Political Adequacy of Quantitative Impact Assessment


On 4 and 5 December Michael Fuchs and Katrin Gasior participated in the European Commission Peer Review "The Political Adequacy of Quantitative Impact Assessment in the Social Field by Means of Micro-simulation Models" in Vienna. Katrin Gasior presented the Austrian online Social Reform Micro-Simulation Model “SORESI”. In the thematic sessions, policy areas for applying micro-simulation in the framework of social impact assessment as well as conditions, potentials and limitations of tax-benefit micro-simulation models were discussed.

International Seminar Carsten Jensen: Cognitive Bias and the Politics of Health Care

Carsten Jensen (University of Aarhus) gave a seminar on patterns of employment in social services and the public sector in different EU Member States. He argued that citizens’ social policy opinions are strongly influenced by a simple heuristic: Are the recipients of social benefits deserving or not? There is strong evidence that the deservingness heuristic does not treat all social benefits alike, but especially tags recipients of health care benefits as deserving. This effect produces broad-based support among the public for health care – across levels of self-interest, media frames, ideological divides, and national cultures. Read more

Ireland is preparing for a now rapidly ageing society


Demographically speaking, Ireland is currently in a position which could still be called a ‘window of opportunity’ to pro-actively plan for a now rapidly ageing society. Whilst many European countries have tried to use their ‘window of opportunity’ during the 1990s (but many did not), Ireland could learn a lot from success, but also from failure. Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) is therefore promoting a public debate to decide how to plan and implement the ‘right’ care to individuals at the right time and at the right place, and how to secure resources for long-term care in a fair society. At the NHI Annual Conference Kai Leichsenring gave a keynote speech about challenges, experiences and innovations in long-term care in Europe. His talk was also featured in the NHI News.

Article in Literarni Noviny: 25 years of Czech welfare


Pieter Vanhuysse, contributed an article on twenty-five years of Czech welfare state development, 'Past successes, but trouble ahead', to the Czech news and arts weekly magazine Literární Noviny, in its special section on 25 years of Czech capitalism, reflecting on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.

Keynote at International Social Security Association research conference


Pieter Vanhuysse gave a keynote address in Jerusalem at the International Research Conference 2014 of the International Social Security Association. Entitled 'Ensuring adequate and sustainable social security', the conference included presentations by Eldar Shafir (Princeton), David Gottlieb (National Insurance Institute, Israel), Hans-Horst Konkolewsky (ISSA Secretary General) and Errol Frank Stoové (ISSA President)

Original guidance on continence care for people with dementia living at home

Dementia and incontinence are among the key factors driving older people to move to a nursing home, but an increasing number of people with these symptoms – often not even diagnosed – are cared for at home. On 22 October Alzheimer Europe released a guideline for improving continence care for people with dementia living at home. This report closed an important gap as no such guidance had existed hitherto for the different stakeholders involved in this area of long-term care. Kai Leichsenring was among the experts who contributed to this original work that was compiled by Dianne Gove (Alzheimer Europe) in collaboration with experts in the fields of dementia, continence, general practice, psychology and policy development, as well as informal carers and people with dementia.

Palliative care to improve quality of life


The 2014 EU Declaration on Palliative Care was presented at the final conference of two EU FP7 Projects (impact and EURO-impact) on 15 October in Brussels. Kai Leichsenring participated in a panel discussion to highlight palliative care as an important component in constructing integrated long-term care systems across Europe. The Declaration promotes among other issues a paradigm shift in health and social care towards basic palliative care skills for all health care professionals and the establishment of mechanisms to continuously monitor and improve quality of and access to palliative care.

New Policy Brief: To Make or to Buy Long-term Care? Part II: Lessons from Quasi-markets in Europe


This Policy Brief reviews evidence on the experiences of four selected countries in the introduction of quasi-markets. By tracking countries’ individual pathways we show how choice and competition were regulated by means of contracts, competitive tendering and purchaser-provider split in certain care sectors. The Policy Brief provides lessons for policy-makers on the impact of the ‘make or buy’ decision on outcomes for users, on quality of care, and on the organisation of care markets and reveals lessons on benefits and unresolved tensions of mixed care economies. This Policy Brief is the second part of a trilogy dedicated to the reliance on markets for the delivery of long-term care. The first Policy Brief appeared in August, the third will follow in November. Read more

International Seminar Tomas Sirovatka: Innovation in Social Services

on October 9th, Professor Tomas Sirovatka (Masaryk University Brno) gave an international seminar on patterns of employment in social services and the public sector in different EU member states. He showed how EU countries pursue their fiscal policies in social services, how they develop modes of governance and the change in the public/private mix in social services, and what new patterns of employment in social services are seen in recent years. He showed a variety in social service development and employment patterns, with two contrasting scenarios: ‘the low road’ and ‘the high road’, both very much influenced by political choice.

New book: Welfare in an Idle Society


A Primer on Re-Designing Social Security to Cope with Global Ageing and 21st Century Pension Future: Austria as a Case in Point.
„With his Welfare in an Idle Society? Bernd Marin has set a ‘gold standard’. Congratulations! Nobody who will give new thoughts to re-designing Social Security can go past this encyclopaedic opus.“ Bert Rürup For more information see the book's website