Forthcoming Summer/Winter Schools

The ESPAnet Summer/Winter Schools are open to (post-)doctoral researchers with projects related to social policy from any discipline and vary in length. Topics covered during summer/winter schools are, for example, the origins and development of social policy, principles and practices of benefit systems and social services, European social policy, methods of comparative research, and the identification and use of available quantitative and qualitative data sets. Participants attend lectures, excursions and participate in discussions. They also present their projects and receive comments from senior researchers and other participants.

For information on past summer/winter schools, please browse the menu on the left.

EDAC-ESPAnet Summer school on Social Policies and Social Outcomes

The Role of Social Policies in Cross-national and Longitudinal Differences in Levels and Distributions of Social Outcomes

14-18 September 2015, Centre for Sociological Research, University of Leuven, Belgium

Through their welfare arrangements societies aspire to improve the living standards of broad categories of their citizens, either directly by e.g. the provision of health care, education and income benefits, or indirectly by e.g. decreasing inequalities of various kinds, extending employment opportunities and stimulating general prosperity. Notwithstanding the good intentions that underlie the design and implementation of social policies, their intended social outcomes are rarely achieved to full effect. They may also result in unintended outcomes that might be unwanted. Therefore, one of the leading questions in comparative social policy analysis, with strong relevance for policy making, regards the issue whether the welfare efforts invested in society achieve their intended objectives, and if not, whether alternative designs would work out better or minimise unintended effects. Moreover, policy outcomes may be different for different groups in society. Quite often this is intended, where policies are expressly targeted at specific categories of citizens only. However, there may be unintended differences in the degree to which social categories are benefiting from social arrangements.  Thus, the question arises what effect do social policies have on levels of outcomes, and what is their effect on distributions of (inequalities in) outcomes?

Target Group

This summer school will allow a maximum of 25 PhD, Post-Docs and early career researcher to present their work and to discuss it with colleagues, international scholars and experienced researchers in the field. It will provide them with a high quality platform for receiving constructive comments from peers and seniors. Papers should address relationships between social policy design and social outcomes from a theoretical and/or empirical, comparative perspective. There is no prior specification for the type of outcome studied. They can be objective (e.g. income inequality, educational achievements), subjective (e.g. job insecurity, welfare attitudes), intended (e.g. labour participation, decrease in poverty), or unintended (e.g. erosion of family values, loss of work ethic). There is also no restriction on the methodologies (quantitative or qualitative) used to study these empirical questions.


As a part of the summer school, there will be an introduction and plenary lectures on selected issues of social policies and social outcomes delivered by senior researchers. Some of the lectures will deal with substantive issues, while others will focus on methodological and analytical aspects of cross-national and longitudinal analysis of social policy outcomes.
Additionally, there will be paper sessions of 2 groups, working in parallel and each group will meet 3 times for two hours. For each PhD or post-doc paper 60 minutes will be available. A paper is not presented by the author(s), but by one of their peers. (S)he will start the discussion of the paper with a brief summary and comments. This is followed by a first reaction from the author(s) and then by group discussion where senior researchers act as co-commentator and moderator.


PhD and post-doc students are charged a fee of 300.00 EUR. This pays for organisational costs and facilities, a welcome reception, and a farewell diner. Hotel (a list of hotels to choose from will be made available in due course) and travel arrangements will have to be organised and paid individually.

Application procedure

Participants will be selected on the basis of the quality of the plans for their papers and their general fit to the theme. Paper plans should include: the title of the paper and a short outline (up to 600 words on rationale for the topic, analytical framework, and research strategy/methods used).


Please send your application to until 1 March 2015.

Successful applicants will be notified by 1 April 2015.

Final paper will have to be submitted by 30 August 2015 as word or PDF-file.

All papers will be electronically pre-circulated to participants, at least three weeks in advance of the summer school.

For more information, please write an email to or have a look at the Call for Participation and