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Book chapter: Konvergenz der Sozialpolitik in Europa? Transnationalisierung der Rentenversicherung und der Altenbetreuung

The book chapter focuses on the question of whether the social policy of European welfare states is actually converging and if so, how this phenomenon can be explained. A comparison of pension schemes and elderly care systems shows that policy convergence occurs in both areas. Further, it is possible to observe convergence within specific country groups (‘convergence clubs’) and trends towards a comprehensive Europe-wide convergence.

The analysis is based on the assumption that convergence can be induced by ‘internal’, national factors such as countries exhibiting similar socio-economic development, having similar societal problems, or comparable political-institutional arrangements. Convergence can also be triggered by external factors through the transnationalization of social policy. In the book chapter, first, (bilateral) transfer processes between countries are examined, asking whether individual countries learn not only from their own experiences, but also from the experiences of others.

Secondly, it is discussed how the policy of the European Union affects the social policies of the individual member states. In the area of pensions, comprehensive policy convergence was promoted by concepts such as the multi-pillar model. In the area of care for the aged, an intensive Europe-wide exchange of experiences between experts has been limited to the types of care services, while differences in the modes of funding remain. With the application of the ‘Open Method of Coordination’ in both areas, EU social policy has entered a new phase.

International comparative research mostly emphasises on cross-country studies to reveal country differences and similarities. The analysis of exchange processes between countries and the impact of supra-national institutions, e.g. the EU, is only rarely in the focus of comparative research. The three level of analysis situation within the country, exchange processes between countries and the supra-national institutions enable a differentiated discussion on the development. The results give insight into exchange processes between countries and the process of Europeanization of social policy. Pension systems and elderly care approaches differ in some respects e.g. type of policy, time of establishment of the first policy approaches - which offer a platform for a meaningful comparison of different areas within social policy.

The book is oriented towards scientists within political science, social policy research and high ranking political experts within national and European administration dealing with issues of European social policy. The new conceptual approach as well as the findings can be used as a starting point for further comparisons, e.g. in other policy areas by social or political scientists. High-ranking experts within national and European administration find scientific knowledge about exchange processes, about changes within countries and indications of a possible impact of the European Union.

The chapter is published in a book on ‘The European Social Model’, which is often quoted within science and discussed and reviewed within high-quality newspapers. Moreover, an English translation is already under review in a referred journal.

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