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Centre for Social Policy Research (CeS) — Zentrum für Sozialpolitik (ZeS), Bremen

The CeS, a research institute of the Bremen University, is committed to empirical research on the foundations of the welfare state: its historical development, how it affects political and social structures, the challenges to social policy at the end of the 20th century and the future of the German social state (‘Sozialstaat’) are major topics of research. Current projects deal—among other things—with the structure and development of social expenditure in Germany and other countries and the historical and international comparison of social policy in Germany with social policy of other economically developed countries. The institute is financed by the University and the State of Bremen. After initial support through Volkswagen Foundation seed grants, the CeS also obtained substantial grants from other sources, such as the German Research Council (DFG), the Hans Böckler Foundation, and the European Community.

A Pioneer in Interdisciplinary Social Policy Research

Founded in 1988, the CeS is the oldest interdisciplinary institute for social policy research in the Federal Republic of Germany. It is located in a former turn-of-the-century high school (Gymnasium) building, the ‘Barkhof’.

Research Agenda

About forty researchers in the fields of economics, sociology, political science, social work/social administration, occupational health and social medicine, supported by assistants, secretaries, and infrastructure personnel, work in the five CeS divisions:

  • Theory and Constitution of the Welfare State (Head: Prof. Dr. Manfred G. Schmidt)
  • Institutions and History of the Welfare State (Head: Prof. Dr. Stephan Leibfried)
  • Economics (Head: Prof. Dr. Winfried Schmähl)
  • Health Policy, Occupational Health and Social Medicine (Head: Prof. Dr. Rainer Müller)
  • Gender Policy in the Welfare State (Head: Prof. Dr. Karin Gottschall).

With its five divisions, the scope of CeS reaches far beyond the German borders: What are the implications of European integration for national welfare states and for German social policy? What are the differences between Germany’s social policy and other countries social security systems? And what are the strengths and weaknesses of German social policy? How are social security systems developing in East European states after the fall of the Iron Curtain?

In addition, the role of the welfare state after World War II, the challenges stemming from the processes of globalization, and the debates on Germany’s international competi- tiveness give rise to some basic questions: Is social security a factor that influences the economic position of a country? Does the welfare state enhance productivity? Under which conditions? Scientific research addresses conflicts between social security and other goals like economic competitiveness, be it at present or in the foreseeable future, and it also deals with the conditions necessary to minimize such goal conflicts.

The CeS faces these questions and problems, inquires into its causes and puts them up for discussion in science as well as in dialogue with political institutions, local bodies and enterprises. Cooperation with sociopolitical practice is a self-evident component of research work and projects.

Empirical research improves the basic understanding of social interrelations and extends our knowledge about the significance of social phenomena; it also contributes to theory development in the individual disciplines and to transdisciplinary communication about social policy problems. These strands of work determine studies at the CeS, in its application-oriented empirical research.


An integral part of cooperation takes place within Bremen University: with the strongly DFG-funded Special Research Unit ‘Status Passages and Social Risks in the Life Course’ (Sfb 186: Statuspassagen und Risikolagen im Lebensverlauf). Further working relationships exist—among others—with the Centre of European Law and Politics (Zentrum für Europäische Rechtspolitik (ZERP)), the Institue for Health and Medical Law (Institut für Gesundheits- und Medizinrecht (igmr)), the Cooperation Unit University - Chamber of Labour (Kooperationsbereich Universität - Arbeiterkammer (KUA)) and the Hanse Science College (Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg (HKW)) in Delmenhorst.

An especially close relationship exists between the CeS division Health Policy, Occupational Health and Social Medicine and the Department of Health Sciences (Wissenschaftliche Einheit Gesundheitswissenschaften); cooperation also takes the form of a widely attended public lecture programme on health policy issues. Resulting from such cooperation in the Bremen region, an adult education programme in ‘health sciences’ for health insurance administrators was established.

By offering regular public lectures on the results of ongoing social policy research, often of current interest, the CeS also provides a regional discussion forum in general social policy.

Members of the CeS are active in various committees, organizations, and institutions important for the development of innovations in social policy.

A variety of contacts with the national and international community of social policy researchers are cultivated through joint projects and, among other things, short- or long-term visits from external researchers. Here, the CeS cooperates especially with the HWK.


The CeS division heads and most research assistants offer a wide variety of courses and lectures on topics of social policy, which students in various university departments can profit from. CeS members also are examiners for diplomas, dissertations and habilitations.

The University Department of Economics of Sociology have established a special curriculum in ‘social policy’. Beyond this, members of the CeS are actively engaged in targeted university-level adult education, for example in courses on health research offered to health insurance administrators.


About 50 persons are currently working at the CeS: about 40 researchers and about 15 persons representing the infrastructure. The CeS has an Executive Board consisting of the heads of all divisions and of two representatives of the Scientific Board. Current speaker of the Executive Board is Prof. Dr. Rainer Müller. His deputy is Prof. Dr. Stephan Leibfried. The Scientific Board comprises all permanent members of the institute. Moreover, the CeS is supported and evaluated by an Advisory Board whose members are distinguished in social policy research and social policy practice. The board was chaired until 1998 by Prof. Dr. Franz-Xaver Kaufmann (Bielefeld) and is now chaired by Prof. Dr. Klaus Dirk Henke (Berlin).

Gisela Hegemann-Mahltig is the manager of the CeS. She is responsible for the administration, the Sociopolitical Archive, the Computer Unit and a library of about 18,000 volumes. The Sociopolitical Archive comprises about 70,000 titles. Historical as well as present-day material is gathered within the context of—historical and international—comparative research. Biographical collections (estates of Ludwig von Manger-Koenig, Hugo Freund, Helmut A. Paul) are in the focus of interest.


CeS Book Series (vols. 1–9)

Schmähl, Winfried, ed. (1992), Sozialpolitik im Prozeß der deutschen Einigung. Frankfurt: Campus.

——, ed. (1993), Mindestsicherung im Alter. Frankfurt: Campus.

Ostner, Ilona, ed. (forthcoming), Ehefrau, Mutter, Erwerbstätige. Sozialpolitik als Geschlechterpolitik im internationalen Vergleich. Frankfurt: Campus.

Behrens, Johann, and Wolfgang Voges, eds. (1996), Kritische Übergänge. Statuspassagen und sozialstaatliche Institutionalisierung. Frankfurt: Campus.

Fachinger, Uwe (1994), Lohnentwicklung im Lebensablauf. Empirische Analysen für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland anhand von prozeßproduzierten Längsschnittdaten. Frankfurt: Campus.

Voges, Wolfgang (1994), Mißbrauch des Rentensystems? Invalidität als Mittel der Frühverrentung. Frankfurt: Campus.

Rothgang, Heinz (1997), Ziele und Wirkungen der Pflegeversicherung. Eine ökonomische Analyse. Frankfurt: Campus.

Bleses, Peter, and Edgar Rose (1998), Deutungswandel der Sozialpolitik. Die Arbeitsmarkt- und Familienpolitik im parlamentarischen Diskurs. Frankfurt: Campus.

Schmähl, Winfried (1999), Betriebliche Sozial- und Personalpolitik—Neue Herausforderungen durch veränderte Rahmenbedingungen. Frankfurt: Campus.

Recent and Selected Books Written by Members of the CeS not Published Within the Book Series

Braun, Bernard, et al. (1998), Das Märchen von der Kostenexplosion. Populäre Irrtümer zur Gesundheits-politik. Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch.

Behrens, Johann, et al., eds. (1996), Gesundheitssystementwicklung in den USA und Deutschland—Wettbewerb und Markt als Ordnungselemente im Gesundheitswesen auf dem Prüfstand des Systemvergleichs. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

Götting, Ulrike (1998), Transformation der Wohlfahrtsstaaten in Mittel- und Osteuropa. Eine Zwischenbilanz. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.

Jochem, Sven (1998), Die skandinavischen Wege in die Arbeitslosigkeit. Kontinuität und Wandel der nordischen Beschäftigungspolitik im internationalen Vergleich. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.

Leibfried, Stephan, and Paul Pierson, eds. (1995), European Social Policy. Between Fragmentation and Integration. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

Leisering, Lutz, and Robert Walker, eds. (1998), The Dynamics of Modern Society. Poverty and Welfare. Bristol: Policy Press.

Müller, Rainer, and Wolfgang Voges (1997), Sozialstaat und Pflege. Augsburg: Maro.

Schmähl, Winfried, and Herbert Rische, eds. (1999), Wandel der Arbeitswelt – Folgerungen für die Sozialpolitik. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

——, eds. (1996), Europäische Sozialpolitik: Stand und Perspektiven. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

——, eds. (1995), Internationalisierung von Wirtschaft und Politik: Hand- lungsspielräume der nationalen Sozialpolitik. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

Schmidt, Manfred G. (1998), Sozial- politik in Deutschland. Historische Entwicklung und internationaler Vergleich. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.

Wagschal, Uwe (1996), Staatsverschuldung. Ursachen im internationalen Vergleich. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.

Recent and Selected CeS Working Papers


No. 1/99: Wagschal, Uwe, and Herbert Obinger, Der Einfluß der Direktdemokratie auf die Sozialpolitik.

No. 2/99: Schmidt, Manfred G., Der konsoziative Staat. Hypothesen zur politischen Struktur und zum Leistungsprofil der Europäischen Union.

No. 3/99: Schmidt, Manfred G., Die Europäisierung der öffentlichen Ausgaben.

No. 14/99: Rieger, Elmar, Zur ‘Theorie’ der Sozialpolitik und des Wohfahrtsstaates. Der Beitrag Max Webers.

No. 15/99: Leibfried, Stephan, and Paul Pierson, European Social Policy.


No. 2/98, Jochem, Sven, The Social Democratic Full-Employment Model in Transition: The Scandinavien Experiences in the 1980s and 1990s.

No. 3/98, Schmidt, Manfred G., Die Gesundheitsausgaben und die Staats-quote. Befunde des Vergleichs demokratisch verfaßter Länder.

No. 5/98: Zentrum für Sozialpolitik, Thesen zur Sozialpolitik in Deutschland. This paper was also published in Zeitschrift für Sozialreform 44(8): 525–69.


No. 1/97: Andrew, Martin, What Does Globalization Have to Do With the Erosion of Welfare States? Sorting Out the Issues.

No. 15/97: Leibfried, Stephan, Der Wohlfahrtsstaat zwischen ‘Integration’ und ‘Desintegration’: Europäische Union, nationale Sozialpolitiken und ‘Globalisierung’.

No. 16/97: Kodré, Petra, Gleichbehandlungspolitik zwischen europäischer und nationalstaatlicher Regelung: Verflechtungen im europäischen Mehrebenen-System.

Working papers are available free of charge at the CeS office. A list of working papers—including some full text versions—is provided on the Internet site:


The CeS publishes a newsletter biannually since 1996—the ZeS report.

For further information please contact:

Centre for Social Policy Research (CeS), University of Bremen
D-28209 Bremen, Germany
Phone: 0049(0)421 218-4362/ 4375/4368
Fax: 0049(0)421 218-7540