Silja Häusermann , Dr. phil.

Professor of Political Science

University of Zurich

Born in 1977 in Lucerne, Switzerland
Studied Political Science and Economics at the University of Geneva and the University of Lausanne


Solidarity under Pressure: Social Policy Priorities, Policy Trade-Offs, and Reform Opportunities in European Welfare States

European welfare states face tremendous challenges: fiscal constraints require cutbacks to existing benefits, while at the same time new needs and demands for social protection emerge. In such times of austerity, the distributive politics of the welfare state involve tough choices and trade-offs: whose risks should benefit from social solidarity in a context of shrinking resources? Should the welfare state prioritize the needs of the elderly or those of the young? Those of people in the workforce or outside of the workforce? Of natives or of immigrants?
How countries answer these questions depends on the welfare state priorities of citizens and elites. However, political science research still holds very few theoretical and empirical insights on these priorities and their determinants. My ongoing ERC research project theorizes the key distributive conflicts in current welfare politics and policy priorities, as well as potentials and avenues for social solidarity and inclusive welfare state reforms. I empirically study the politics of welfare trade-offs by means of comparative content analysis, experimental and observational public opinion surveys, and elite surveys. The goal is to identify how and why conflicts about priorities differ between countries and which mechanisms foster support for social policies among those actors who are unlikely to benefit directly from these policies.
During my year at the Wissenschaftskolleg, I will be working on the theoretical framework of both conflict and coalition potentials in current welfare politics. I will also be in the midst of conducting and analyzing surveys among citizens and elites in eight European countries.
In addition - and related to the welfare state project both theoretically and empirically - I will be working on a longstanding book project on electoral voter realignment in Europe and its impact on the electoral performance and political program of social democratic parties.

Recommended Reading

Beramendi, Pablo, Silja Häusermann, Herbert Kitschelt, and Hanspeter Kriesi. The Politics of Advanced Capitalism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Gingrich, Jane and Silja Häusermann. "The decline of the working class vote, the reconfiguration of the welfare support coalition and consequences for the welfare state." Journal of European Social Policy 25 (2015): 50-75.
Häusermann, Silja. The Politics of Welfare State Reform in Continental Europe: Modernization in Hard Times. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Publications from the Fellows' Library

Häusermann, Silja ( 2015)
The decline of the working-class vote, the reconfiguration of the welfare support coalition and consequences for the welfare state

Häusermann, Silja ( New York, NY, 2015)
The politics of advanced capitalism

Häusermann, Silja ( Oxford, 2012)
The age of dualization : the changing face of inequality in deindustrializing societies International policy exchange series

Häusermann, Silja ( Cambridge [u.a.], 2010)
The politics of Welfare State Reform in Continental Europe : modernization in hard times Cambridge studies in comparative politics







Tuesday Colloquium03/26/19