Report on the Future of European welfare states

As member of the High-Level Group of the European Commission, Professor Ebbinghaus contributed to the report on the Future of Social Protection and the Welfare State in the EU, which was launched on 7 Feburary 2023 in Brussels. The expert group, chaired by former European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Anna Diamantopoulou, looked at ways to reinforce social protection both at national and European levels to respond for instance to demographic change, the impact of new forms of work, and the digital and green transitions. Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, and the ministers from Belgium, Sweden, and Spain as well as other policymakers and stakeholders attended the conference to discuss the policy implications of the report. Professsor Ebbinghaus explained the recommendations on social protection for all and its funding on a panel, highlighting the need to close access gaps for those with flexible jobs and performing non-standard work, while also extending funding for the welfare state with a broader, fairer mix of revenue sources.

Nomination as Karl Polanyi Visiting Professor

In January 2023, Prof. Bernhard Ebbinghaus will be the fourth Karl Polanyi Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna. As kick-off, he will hold a public lecture (in German) on welfare state resilience as a countermovement in economic crises.  He will hold a Graduate Seminar at the University of Vienna and a workshop at the Central European University (CEU), both dealing with crisis reactions and adjustments of welfare states in Europe in the field of labour market and social policy.

Vacancy at Uni Mannheim: Assistant Professorship – Sociology of Welfare States

The School of Social Sciences of the University of Mannheim has a vacancy for an assistant professorship (Juniorprofessur, W1) in the areas of welfare state research from August 2023 for up to six years. Postdocs with research and teaching experience in comparative sociology, in particular the analysis of welfare states, are invited to apply by 24 November 2022. Teaching comprises German taught B.A. Soziologie (Aufbaumodul „Europäische Gesellschaften“) and English taught M.A. Sociology. Close cooperation with the Chair of Macrosociology, Prof. Ebbinghaus, and research at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) are expected. More information (in German): PDF

Prof Ebbinghaus returning to University of Mannheim

Since January 2022, Bernhard Ebbinghaus is Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at University of Mannheim, Germany. After five years at University of Oxford, he returns to the Chair of Macrosociology teaching comparative sociology in the Mannheim sociology (BA, MA, PhD) programmes and he continues his research on the reforms of European welfare states, facilitated by the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES)

During his five years at Oxford, he was Professor of Social Policy and Senior Research Fellow of Green Templeton College at University of Oxford from January 2017 until December 2022. From October 2017 until December 2020, Prof Ebbinghaus was Head of the Department of Social Policy and Intervention (DSPI) at University of Oxford. In addition, he is currently Associate Member of Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

He has been visiting Mercator Fellow (2018-21) at the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB 884) Political Economy of Reform and MZES External Fellow, University of Mannheim. In 2021 Prof Ebbinghaus was on sabbatical, working on the projects at University of Mannheim and visiting as OxPo Fellow the European research centre (CEE) at Sciences Po Paris. Since November 2021 Professor Ebbinghaus is member of the European Commission’s High-Level Group on the future of social protection and of the welfare state in the EU.


Return to Uni Mannheim

After five years as Professor of Social Policy and Head (2017-21) of the Department of Social Policy & Intervention at University of Oxford, Bernhard Ebbinghaus returned as Professor of Sociology to the University of Mannheim, leading the Macrosociology Chair at the School of Social Sciences as of January 2022. He will continue teaching comparative sociology and conducting research on welfare state reforms in Europe. Over the last twelve years he had been co-PI in the joint research centre Political Economy of Reform (SFB884) and had recently completed a project on Crisis Corporatism or Corporatism in Crisis at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES).

High-Level Group on EU Welfare State Futures

The newly launched High-Level Group on the future of social protection and of the welfare state in the EU was launched on 16 November 2021 at the European Commission in Brussels. The Group will present recommendations on how to make social protection and welfare systems fit for the future. Professor Ebbinghaus is one of the twelve members of the High-Level Group advising the European Commission.

New LSE EUROPP Blog on Labour hoarding during the pandemic

New LSE EUROPP Blog by Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Lukas Lehner

Job retention schemes have helped Europe to avoid mass unemployment during the Covid-19 pandemic. Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Lukas Lehner write that while these schemes had an immediate impact during lockdown, the future development and long-term consequences of job retention policies remain uncertain.

Inequalities and poverty risks in old age across Europe – contribution to special issue

While the sustainability of pension systems facing demographic ageing has been widely discussed, the adequacy of retirement income has often been neglected in current debate. However, considerable poverty and income inequality in old age exists across Europe. Using recent EU‐SILC data (2017/18), the comparative analysis of poverty rates and income inequality in old age shows important cross‐national variations that need to be seen in context of market‐related inequalities but also the specific pension system. Beveridge basic security is not always capable of effectively reducing poverty despite the explicit goal to do so. In addition, private funded pensions may generate social inequality. Some contributory Bismarckian systems are better suited to reduce poverty, but given their focus on status maintenance also reproduce inequality. Poverty rates are low due to encompassing basic pensions in Dutch and some Nordic multipillar systems and in core Central and Eastern European countries. Bismarckian pensions such as in Germany are generating some inequality and medium level of poverty, while France and some Southern European countries perform better on poverty but reproduce larger inequalities. Beveridge systems such as in the United Kingdom and Switzerland with rather meagre basic multipillar systems have relatively medium to high poverty risks. In addition, the Baltic countries and new EU member states in the periphery have the highest poverty rates across Europe. The analysis shows that the minimum income provision of public pension systems matters most for poverty risks, while the overall pension architecture has an impact on reproducing inequality in old age acquired during working life.

Ebbinghaus, Bernhard (2021) “Inequalities and poverty risks in old age across Europe: The double‐edged income effect of pension systems”, Social Policy & Administration, 55(3): 440–455 (open access).

Part of a special issue:  Inequalities in pension and retirement: Life‐courses and pension systems in comparative perspective, Social Policy & Administration, 55(3), May 2021, edited by Kati Kuitto, Susan Kuivalainen, and Katja Möhring.

Rethinking the role of state pension (TUC pension conference 2021 panel)

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) discussed the role of the state in the public-private pension mix in its TUC pension conference (fourth day) 2021. Professor Ebbinghaus contributed a presentation, “Inequalities & Poverty Risks in Old Age across European Pension Systems“, discussing the United Kingdom in comparative perspective. Comparing poverty rates across Europe, the British pension system has higher poverty rates compared to the Danish or Dutch basic pension systems but also the EU average or Germany. While in Bismarckian social insurance systems, poverty reduction is a secondary policy goal, some are able to reduce poverty through social pensions and compensating for gaps in contributions. In Beveridgean multipillar pension system, the primary goal is to provide a public basic pension for all residents, though its efficacy depends on its generosity, whereas the important private supplementary pension pillars increase inequality. The role of the state pension thus needs to be understood in the context of the overall architecture of the public and private pension system in the light of the goal to reduce poverty and inequality in old age.

Presentation (PDF) at TUC pension conference, 18 March 2021, 1 pm.