In line with its multidisciplinary approach to economics, the U.S.E. board has included a chair on Economics of the Welfare State in its development plan. The welfare state, in this context, is defined as a complex institutional framework that on the one hand puts constraints on individual action, while on the other hand embodies generally accepted ways of thinking and behaving. The importance of the welfare state in the framing of economic structures and processes, the high profile of the welfare state in economic policy, and the impact of welfare state arrangements in everyday life, make it important to stimulate systematic, empirical, theory-based research on different aspects of the welfare state.
From the perspective of an economics faculty that wishes to create a distinctive profile for itself, a chair that focuses on the economics of the welfare state has strategic importance, as it enables intensive forms of cooperation, especially with lawyers and sociologists. For economics as an academic discipline, this is of great importance as well, because of the impact of the welfare state on economic behaviour and outcomes.
The chair in Economics of the Welfare State concentrates on the analysis of the origin, development and economic consequences of the welfare state and welfare state arrangements, including the informal ones. Attention is paid to economic theories of the state, including governance structures, distributive effects and allocative efficiency. As far as the empirical issues are concerned, there is a strong emphasis on ‘new’ welfare state arrangements fostering the adult worker model, like child care arrangements, leave facilities and more individualised systems of social security. In addition, the students are made familiar with applied comparative analyses of the welfare states, taking into account the growing European integration, and the effects of this integration on national policy options.