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 Kai Leichsenring.


Additional countries entered into the Memorandum of Understanding

In order to improve European cohesion and to contribute to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the European Centre has established further cooperation with Eastern European countries. Following the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Serbian Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, another MoU was now signed with the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour. Other countries' ministries are soon to follow, including Albania, Azerbaijan, Kosovo and Macedonia. In its ‘Bridge building function’ with Eastern European countries the European Centre provides governments, international institutions, research institutes and civil society organizations with relevant know-how and advice for establishing or improving structures in the area of social welfare policies, based on expertise drawn from the European Centre's empirical and comparative cross-national research.

New Project: Study on the Social Dimension of the EU

The Austrian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection has commissioned the European Centre to identify key thematic areas that could be underpinned by benchmarking processes if further policy convergence took place to strengthen the social dimension of the EU. The study will suggest potential indicators for benchmarking and will discuss their pros and cons as well as potential accompanying measures by mutual learning from good practice. A final report will be delivered by the end of November 2016. Contact: Anette Scoppetta

Care leaves from the workplace for informal carers – an international comparison

What kind of support do care leaves from the workplace offer for informal caregivers? How can generosity of different approaches be measured? Featured on the blog.arbeit-wirtschaft.at of the Austrian Chamber of Labour and the Austrian Trade Union Federation, Andrea E. Schmidt presents findings from an international comparison of family care leave policies and legislation, zooming in on the Austrian situation. She concludes that the Austrian care leave models help provide a good work-life balance for caregivers, yet statutory rights are partly found wanting.

Study on persons not covered by health insurance in Austria

In a project funded by the Umbrella Organisation of the Austrian Social Insurance Institutions (Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger), Michael Fuchs, Katarina Hollan and Martin Schenk (Diakonie Österreich) will analyse the extent, socio-demographic characteristics, causes and coping strategies of persons not covered by health insurance in Austria. For the project both quantitative and qualitative methods will be used. A former study on the topic was carried out in 2002/03 – please view the Summary.

Martin Kahanec: The Myths and Veracities of the European Migration Challenge

Europe has been going through multiple challenges, including aging populations, skill shortages, economic recession and financial crisis, and the current migration crisis. The ensuing complexities have confused many key actors, including the general public and voters, as to their perspectives on the role of labor mobility for European societies and economies. In this International Seminar Martin Kahanec will shed light on some of the key questions asked in the migration debate: Do migrants take our jobs and welfare? Are they grease or sand in the wheels of European economies? And how many migrants come due to the magnetism of welfare provisions in receiving countries? Read more

Presentation at the Conference of the European Association of Health Economics

Ricardo Rodrigues presented findings from ongoing research – with Stefania Ilinca and Andrea Schmidt – on equity in long-term care in Europe at the Conference of the European Association of Health Economics, in Hamburg on 15 July. The presentation titled “Measures of economic status and equity effects in the use of long-term care in Europe: ranking by income versus wealth”, showed that using wealth (e.g. house ownership) over income may impact on the analysis of equity in the use of different types of long-term care by older people in Europe. The presentation is available on request from the author.

AGORA – How to build a health-promoting public sphere

Inter-professional cooperation is considered a valuable goal within health promotion as well as “New Public Governance”: for the clients of the respective professions and for the professionals themselves. The practice project AGORA, which was subsidised by the Austrian Health Promotion Fund and by the Health promotion institutes of Vienna and Lower Austria, intended to contribute to the extension and intensification of cooperation of social work and police in the public sphere. In the (German language) report Irmgard Eisenbach-Stangl and her partners from the Universities of Applied Sciences in Vienna and Lower Austria depict current cooperation and discuss experiences with interventions aiming at their improvement.

Corridor Studies Austria/Turkey and Germany/Turkey on Portability of Social Benefits published as World Bank discussion papers

An increasing share of the world population will spend some time of working life outside their home country. Lacking portability of acquired social rights threatens human rights, deteriorates individual life cycle planning and social risk management, affects labour mobility negatively, and creates fiscal costs for at least one of the countries. In the country coordination of portability, bilateral (and multilateral) agreements play a key role. However, what they are able to achieve with regard to human rights and economic and social outcomes remained largely unknown. Against this background the project commissioned by the World Bank set up corridor studies as an instrument of knowledge gathering and result analysis. The analysis of the two bilateral social security agreements between Austria/Turkey and Germany/Turkey (authors: R. Holzmann, M. Fuchs, S. Pacaci Elitok, P. Dale) brought substantial experiences, as they have existed for many years in migration intensive corridors.

More than 1000 participants at the International Conference for Integrated Care


The 16th Conference of the research community focusing on issues of integrated care took place from 23 to 25 May in Barcelona. While still a decade ago this community gathered a small number of experts only, this year there were more than 1,000 delegates, underlining the huge and growing interest in ‘Integrated Care’ and the exchange of experiences across the globe. Kai Leichsenring was among the more than 90 speakers and presented results of the European Centre’s recent study on ‘Integrated Care, Choice and Competition’. During the conference he also gave an interview to outline the European Centre’s expertise and long-standing engagement related to the range of issues in integrating health and social care. Contact: Kai Leichsenring.

First Memorandum of Understanding signed by Serbia


On 2 June, Dr. Nenad Ivanisevic, Secretary of State for International Affairs in the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Veterans Affairs of the Republic of Serbia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, represented by its Executive Director Kai Leichsenring. This agreement has been a result of the new ‘Bridge-building’ focus of the European Centre in close cooperation with the Austrian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection. While similar activities are under way in a number of pre-accession countries in Eastern Europe, this was the first official document signed to underline the intention of both parties to collaborate more systematically in all areas of social welfare policy, in particular with a view to knowledge exchange and mutually-agreed research and development projects. In this context we also welcome Ms Anja Javor, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Veterans Affairs, as the new National Liaison Official for Serbia. Contact: Kai Leichsenring

How does social participation change with deteriorating health in old-age?


Chronic disease prevalence increases in old-age, which is likely to reduce social participation patterns of older people. In a publication series for the European Journal of Ageing the factors associated with different forms of social engagement are analysed in five papers in European cross-country comparisons, and presented separately for older people with and without multiple chronic diseases. The activities covered in the series include informal caregiving, volunteering, leisure activities, religious participation and lifelong learning. The results show that individual characteristics (e.g. higher income) are unlikely to compensate for health deficits in the decision to become engaged, for example, in informal care provision.

Social (insurance) contributions and monetary social benefits in Austria


In a joint paper with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection Michael Fuchs and Katrin Gasior analyse the amount of monetary social benefits received by non-Austrian citizens compared to Austrian citizens and the amount of social (insurance) contributions paid in 2015. The analysis is based on the tax-benefit microsimulation model EUROMOD/SORESI and uses EU-SILC 2014 as input data.
The figures can be downloaded here.

The long night of care in Vienna


The Austrian Federation of Nursing organised a ‘long night of care’ in cooperation with the Viennese Hospital Holding on 9 May 2016. Presentations and panel discussions with key stakeholders focused on the importance of professionalisation to make health systems sustainable, in particular in the context of the ongoing reform of the Austrian Nursing Act. Kai Leichsenring presented key features from the European Centre’s study on "Good Care from Care Workers’ Perspectives". You can find a video regarding the long night of care here.