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: Minimizing Misery: A New Strategy for Public Policies instead of Maximizing Happiness
In her new Policy Brief, Orsolya Lelkes states that preventing avoidable unhappiness should be given priority as a policy goal – even more so than maximizing happiness. Using a cross-sectional multi-country dataset with 57 thousand observations from 29 European countries, she shows that unhappiness varies a great deal more across social groups than (high levels of) happiness does.
Lasting unhappiness could be regarded as an undesirable personal condition as such, similar to poverty or social exclusion, and reducing it needs to be a key welfare state objective. Policies need to focus on reducing unhappiness, partly on ethical grounds, partly because it costs a lot to us in economic terms (as much as about 10% of GDP). Private misery is therefore a public issue.
Are Healthcare Systems (and Citizens' Health) Becoming a Collateral Victim of the Financial Crisis?
Ricardo Rodrigues attended an expert workshop organised by Eurofound to discuss how budget-balancing measures in healthcare are impacting services and ultimately citizens’ health. Amidst some limited efficiency gains (Ireland) and tentative reforms (Greece), it seems that across-the-board cuts in healthcare spending may be hampering access to care and risk increasing long-term costs, e.g. due to cuts in cost-effective public health measures. Other potential side-effects of cuts in healthcare spending are workforce shortages and care drain. Ricardo Rodrigues and Eszter Zólyomi will soon publish a Research Note, commissioned by the European Commission, on the effects of the financial crisis on unmet needs.
Honor: Academic Jury, German-British Demography Prize Award for Young Scientists 2012-2013
On 25 and 26 october, Pieter Vanhuysse participated as presenter and Academic Jury Member
at the conference awarding the Demography Prize for Young Scientists 2012-2013
on the theme of “Youth Quotas - The Answer to Changes in Age Demographics?” This biannual Young Scientists award of 10,000 Euro is jointly awarded by the German Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations and the UK Intergenerational Foundation, and it is financed by the Appletree Foundation Learning Project for Co-evolution and Integration.
'Home sweet home'? On moving patients and health professionals – New publications online
Ever more Europeans are on the move – for professional reasons, leisure, or in search of new opportunities. This increased mobility also affects the health care sector, in which EU citizens are moving across borders as medical doctors, patients, or care home providers. In a European project, the implications of these mobility patterns for quality of care, continuity of care, and patient safety in the health and long-term care sectors were analysed. Selected publications and presentations resulting from the European Centre's work on the project 'Evaluating Care Across Borders' (ECAB) are now displayed and accessible on the ECAB website. The project finished in October 2013 and received funding from the EU 7th Framework Programme and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research.
Contact: Juliane Winkelmann and Andrea E. Schmidt
How Policy Surprises Affect Public Reactions to Labor Market Regulation Policies
On 7 November, Dr Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Professor Reimut Zohlnhöfer (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg) held an international seminar on 'Expectations, Motivations, and Responsibility Attribution: How Policy Surprises Affect Public Reactions to Labor Market Regulation Policies.' The commenter was Professor Bernhard Kittel (University of Vienna). The presenters asked how political expectations shape responsibility attribution for adverse policy consequences. They study the causal effect of congruence between policymakers and policies on the level of responsibility attributed to their adverse consequences with two survey experiments conducted in Israel and Germany. The German experiment on public reactions to the adoption of either the liberalization of labor relations or a minimum wage shows that incongruent scenarios result in less responsibility attribution to policymakers, and that this effect is mediated by the inference of a 'practical' rather than 'ideological' policy motivation by respondents. For more info contact Pieter Vanhuysse
Between Myth and Reality: Privately Paid Migrant Care Around-the-Clock
Between 30,000 and 40,000 persons are registered as carers in private households in Austria to respond to older people’s needs for care that is affordable, flexible and timely. They work on fortnightly shifts and mostly come from Austria’s neighbouring CEE countries. However, quality monitoring is still patchy and professional standards do not correspond to those of the formal care sector yet. In a stakeholder event on 24-hours care, held by Hilfswerk Austria, Andrea E. Schmidt presented on aspects of quality management in the 24-hours care sector. Results were based on a study in the project ‘Evaluating Care Across Borders’. The materials of the event can be downloaded for free from the event website.
General Assembly Meeting 2013
On 17 - 18 October 2013, the European Centre's 39th Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors and the 23rd NLO Assembly Meeting was held at the Vienna International Centre (UNOV-VIC). The activities and ongoing projects of the Centre were presented. The wideranging programme included sessions on flagship projects, Long Term Care policies, labor market policies, and new directions for social research.
Long-term care in Europe - The way forward
The European Centre and partners of the project INTERLINKS were invited by the Interest Group Carers at the European Parliament (MEP Heinz K. Becker) to arrange a Policy Briefing. The event ‘Long-term care in Europe – The way forward: Innovation by coordination and integration’ will take place on 28 November 2013 at the European Parliament and is open to an interested public. It will focus on innovations with the potential to improve the quality of long-term care across different settings and pathways from prevention to the end of life.
Contact: Kai Leichsenring
Registration: Heinz K. Becker
Safety and quality in health care
Juliane Winkelmann participated at the 30th International Conference of the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) in Edinburgh, which aims to promote and support continuous improvement in the safety and quality of health care worldwide. She presented a paper on quality improvements in care around-the-clock, co-authored with Andrea Schmidt, Kai Leichsenring and Ricardo Rodrigues, based on results from the project Evaluating Care Across Borders (ECAB), in the thematic track ‘Patient and Family Experience’. She also introduced EuroREACH’s Health Data Navigator in the session ‘Measuring Service Performance and Outcomes' to researchers and experts.
New Policy Brief: Intergenerational Justice in Austria Compared
The European Centre has published a new Policy Brief in which Pieter Vanhuysse presents a simple four-dimensional snapshot indicator of intergenerational justice (IJI) in practice for Austria and 28 other OECD countries. Three of the IJI dimensions measure policy outcomes that leave legacy burdens towards younger and future generations: the ecological footprint created by all generations alive today; early-life starting conditions as measured by child poverty levels; and the public debt burdens on the shoulders of currently young generations. A fourth dimension presents a measure of welfare states’ overall pro-elderly bias in social spending. Read more!
Employment Quotas for Disabled Persons: Parameters, Aspects, Effectiveness
In his recent (German-language) article, Michael Fuchs analyses quota systems for private and/or public enterprises/institutions that exist in the majority of EU-countries. Their target is to stimulate labour demand by committing employers to employ a certain share of employees with disabilities. Typically, the stipulated share ranges between 2% and 7% of the workforce. In most countries the degree of fulfilment ranges between 30% and 70%. According to available empirical data, quota systems only lead to small net employment gains. While already employed persons who become disabled and can be included, are more likely to be employed continuously, quotas only provide small incentives to hire disabled people. (Michael Fuchs: ‘Beschäftigungsquoten für behinderte Personen: Parameter, Aspekte, Effektivität’, in: Soziale Sicherheit 9/2013, 438-445)
Expert Workshop with the Swedish Social Ministry
On October 10th, the European Centre hosted a large delegation of experts from the Swedish Social Ministry in the Mozarthaus Vienna for a workshop on our social policy research. European Centre researchers presented on recent and ongoing projects regarding Long Term Care (Ricardo Rodrigues and Kai Leichsenring, and Andrea Schmidt), Austrian social policy simulation (Katrin Gasior) and integration of disabled workers (Michael Fuchs and Eszter Zolyomi)
Long-term Care for Older People
The ‘First Interprofessional Congress of Long-term Care for Older People’ was organised by the Hungarian Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics on 1-2 October 2013 in Budapest. Kai Leichsenring contributed to this event by presenting approaches to assess, ensure and improve quality in emerging long-term care (LTC) systems across Europe. Definitions and caveats were discussed alongside a number of selected initiatives to promote quality development of organisations providing LTC. To scale up such initiatives the different stakeholders need to be involved in the dialogue on measuring and improving the quality of LTC. See also: http://interlinks.euro.centre.org
Comparing Family Policies in Italy to Selected European Union Member States
Kai Leichsenring contributed a chapter to a new book comparing family policies in Italy to selected European Union Member States, discussing the consequences of ‘subsidiarity upside down’. This documentation (Festival della Famiglia di Trento. Crisi economica e programmazione delle politiche familiari, L. Malfer and F. Gagliarducci, eds., Milano 2013: Franco Angeli, in Italian only) gathers contributions to the ‘Family’s Festival’ in Trento (October 2012) by various authors from Giovanni Bertin and Pierpaolo Donati to Mario Monti and Chiara Valentini.
Data driving health – the Health Data Navigator: an innovative tool for health research
In their article ‘Data driving health’ published in the Pan European Networks: Government, Issue 7, Maria M. Hofmarcher and Juliane Winkelmann address the challenges of accessing comparable data for healthcare research. They introduce the EuroREACH project which responded to these challenges by developing a platform to promote transparency in available healthcare data sources and initiatives. The ‘Health Data Navigator’ guides researchers and policy-makers to access patient-level and disease-oriented data as well provides information on good practice regarding data use in the comparative assessment of health systems.
Migrant care and its effect on the Austrian care labour market and welfare state
With increased reliance on live-in migrant carers from Eastern European countries providing 24-hours care, Austria’s labour market is increasingly shaped by divergent employment structures. Juliane Winkelmann discussed the implications of the 24-hours care reform on the Austrian care labour market in her presentation of the paper ‘Double standards in regulating migrant care work? – Analysing cleavages in the care labour market in Austria’, co-authored with Andrea Schmidt and Kai Leichsenring, at the seminar ‘Analysing the political economy of household services in Europe’ on 3-4 October 2013 at Sciences Po/LIEPP, Paris.
A new inventory of data on demographic change and healthy ageing
The Joint Programme Initiative’s (JPI) ‘More Years, Better Lives’ undertook a data-mapping exercise to analyse available data sources relevant for demographic change in Austria and across Europe, see the results here. The website includes relevant data sources on demographic change and health in Austria collected by Katharine Schulmann, Juliane Winkelmann, Maria M. Hofmarcher, Eszter Zólyomi and Ricardo Rodrigues who were also authors of the national report on demographic change, policy concerns and data sources in Austria, available here. The JPI data project seeks to examine whether there are major gaps in the available data infrastructure as well as to provide statistical agencies with user-driven feedback on standard data sources.
New article: Minimising Misery: A New Strategy for Public Policies Instead of Maximising Happiness?
In her forthcoming article in the Social Indicators Research, Orsolya Lelkes raises the issue whether public policy should focus on minimizing unhappiness rather than maximizing happiness. Using a cross-sectional multi-country dataset with 57,000 observations from 29 European countries, she shows that unhappiness varies a great deal more across social groups than (high levels of) happiness does. While misery appears to strongly relate to broad social issues (such as unemployment, poverty, social isolation), bliss might be more of a private matter, with individual strategies and attitudes, hidden from the eye of a policy-maker. Download working paper version.