Generational welfare contracts in transition: Just institutions and outcomes in Sweden and other countries.

Project leader


Funding source

Forte - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2011
End date: 31/12/2013
Funding: 3900000 SEK


Social policies and the organization of welfare states reflect different ideas about distributive justice between generations. The sustainability of social policies in relation to ageing populations and the return of mass unemployment is dependent on the organization of generational welfare contracts. Unbalanced contracts may arise when social rights are not evenly distributed across the life cycle. This may reinforce conflicts of interests, creating obstacles for the realization of social solidarity for long characterizing the Swedish welfare state. This project applies theories of justice to the study of social policy institutions, generational structures and their distributive implications. Since the basic principles of welfare states change relatively slowly in single countries, comparisons between countries are important when evaluating the consequences of different policy choices. The project consists of three parts: a theoretical and conceptual analysis of generational justice, a comparative institutional analysis of life cycle related programs of the welfare state, and, finally, an analysis of the latter’s distributive effects. We combine sociological perspectives on the development of the welfare state and its distributive consequences with a political science perspective on justice and equality thereby uniting two strong scientific traditions that much too often are carried out separately in the analysis of the welfare state. The linking of theory and empirical analysis improves the knowledge about relationships between justice, social policy and distribution over the life cycle. Which principles of generational justice can be discerned in different welfare states? What are the distributive consequences of different social policy models? For example, to what extent do the needs of the retired conflict with the needs of younger generations? The project contributes with new knowledge in an area of great social scientific and socio-political relevance.

Last updated on 2017-29-03 at 17:13