The Welfare of Public Servants in European Comparison
The major aim of the project is to examine the welfare state arrangements of public servants in several European countries, their prerequisites and their effects. In the centre of the project are the institutions of social protection for public servants and their necessary adaptations to the changing environment. Such external pressures, like the public employment expansion and subsequent state financial crises, the demographic ageing, among others, are analyzed in relation to the change in the institutions of social protection for public servants. The extent of public employment and the structure of social protection strongly influence the objective living conditions and the quality of life of public servants. The project will investigate the effects of these adaptations in public employment and of these reforms of social protection for public employees on their social situation. Two different ways are used for data collection and analysis: first, detailed and standardized country studies for the South and North European countries. These two groups of countries have been chosen because they are most different and represent the two extremes with respect to their national public services. Such in-depth country studies are needed in order to hermeneutically ‘understand’ the historical development of the institutions of social protection for public servants and the legal position of public servants which are supposed to exert a strong influence on their living conditions. Second, comparative analyses for the whole of the European Union using large-scale social surveys (like the EU Labour Force Survey (EULFS), ECHP, and the EU-SILC) with respect to objective living conditions (income, pensions, working time, etc.).
Project work concentrated itself on the writing of the country profile ‘Sweden’. Since the 1990s fundamental reforms were introduced there in order to overcome the fiscal crisis and to modernize the country. State expenditures on average were reduced by 10 per cent, after the budget deficit had reached a threatening level in 1993. This reform exerted effects on public employment: meanwhile, Sweden has given up its position as a country of extremely high ‘state employment’ and has approached the European average. Another central measure was a basic reform of the pension system: the social security in old age of public employees was completely integrated, through which an institutionally coherent system with reduced inequality-producing effects was created.