The Programme

Welfare states are at a critical turning point. The development of welfare systems was one of the defining characteristics of the 20th century, especially in Europe. However, in times of change, it is important to re-think “the welfare state” with a programme of innovative research designed to ask, and answer, fundamental questions about the design, delivery and experience of welfare in the 21st century. It is for this reason that New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Co-operation in Europe (NORFACE) network has launched a major transnational programme on the topic of Welfare State Futures. This highly topical theme offers an approach from a variety of perspectives and disciplines, enables and encourages multi-disciplinarity and offers a fruitful topic for a European approach, with opportunities for comparison.

Download Programme Brochure [pdf]

Themes and Objectives of the Programme

The Welfare State Futures programme has three major objectives:

  • To advance globally excellent theoretical and methodological disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and comparative research on Welfare State Futures which builds synergetically on a pan-European basis.
  • To motivate and support excellence and capacity building for research on Welfare State Futures on a cross-national basis throughout the NORFACE countries.
  • To develop understanding and promote research-based knowledge and insight into Welfare State Futures for issues of societal, practical and policy relevance, with theoretical foundations but worked on jointly with relevant users and experts.

This programme covers five themes of research on Welfare State Futures:

  • People and the Welfare State
  • Inequalities, Diversity and Welfare States
  • Rethinking the Economics of the Welfare State
  • The Future Politics of the Welfare State
  • Shifting Responsibilities for Welfare


The programme is funded by 15 NORFACE partners and the European Commission (ERA-Net Plus funding, grant agreement number 618106). The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life, and Welfare (Forte) has made an additional contribution to the programme. M€ 19 of funding is allocated to fifteen projects that have started from late 2014 to early 2015. After the inception of the WSF Programme, NORFACE has gained four new partners, such that there are currently 19 members. More information about the NORFACE network and its partners can be found on the NORFACE website.

Scientific Programme Coordinator

Professor Ellen M. Immergut of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin has been appointed as Scientific Programme Coordinator for the research programme Welfare State Futures. Please contact us here.