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Human Capital Formation

Educational Problems in the Welfare State

Thursday 24 May at 13.15-14.45 and 15.15-16.45

Research shows substantial benefits of early investments in childhood education both for the individual child and for society. However, Denmark already spends a substantial share of its public revenues on education relative to most other countries. An important question for the future of the welfare state therefore is whether educational improvements should come from more investments – or whether we should look for different ways of supporting the development of children and youth and reducing educational inequality?

The first of two consecutive workshops will present cutting-edge research from the US and UK on what kind of scalable interventions demonstrate the most promising results. The second workshop will present new research from Denmark and contrast it against pressing challenges.

The two workshops will end with a discussion with the presenters and the audience about challenges and solutions.

PART I: Evidence from the US and the UK

Workshop participants:

Professor Michael Rosholm, Aarhus University
Introduction: The theory of early investments and the reality in Denmark.
Short introduction to the theory of early investments and some facts about spending on child care and education in Denmark

Professor Laura Justice, Ohio State University
How daycares should work to support the language development of all children. Research on early childhood interventions in the US

Professor Dorthe Bleses, Aarhus University
New evidence on how to support language development in Danish daycare institutions

PART II: Danish Challenges and Solutions

Workshop participants:

Professor Simon Calmar Andersen, Aarhus University
New evidence from randomized controlled trials in Danish schools

New research on Danish schools support a number of important lessons for the future education policies in the welfare state. Collaboration with parents has proven to be a cost-effective strategy – compared to more resource interventions such as co-teaching or increasing instruction time. Looking across the different intervention trials, results suggest that it is important to find a balance between a strong focus on child outcomes with some degree of teacher autonomy in terms of how to do the teaching.

CEO Jan Præstholm, Director Ole Kiil Jacobsen, Department of Children and Young People, City of Aarhus:

What are the most pressing challenges, how can existing research results be used, what are the most promising solutions?

Overall data show that children and young people are doing well in the City of Aarhus. Parents are generally very satisfied with their children's day care and school, and the majority of children and young people are thriving and developing their social and intellectual skills as expected. There is however still a number of areas where we haven’t fully reached our target. In our presentation we will introduce some of the challenges we face. Just as we will give examples of the solutions we are working on, including research collaborations with The University of Aarhus.

Discussion with the panel and the audience (Moderator: Michael Rosholm)


Professor Dorthe Bleses

CEO, Jan Præstholm

Professor Laura Justice

Director Ole Kiil Jacobsen

Professor Simon Calmar Andersen

The workshop is organized by Simon Calmar Andersen, Professor, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, e-mail:  simon@ps.au.dk, Phone: + 45 8716 5725

Is Social Investment (still) the Future of the Welfare State?

Friday 25 May at 15.00-16.30

Since the late 1970s, governments of European welfare states have been trying to follow a social investment strategy in their attempt to adjust to major economic and social challenges, including demographic ageing, globalization, and the rise of new social risks. The financial meltdown of 2008 and the subsequent recession caused most European welfare states to experience rising unemployment, reduced credibility of the banking sector, falling exports and rising budget deficits, necessitating austerity measures that potentially threaten the continuation of a policy agenda focused on social investment and the promotion of human capital. The question for this panel is therefore: Is social investment (still) the future of the welfare state?

Workshop participants:

Jane Gingrich, Department of Politics and International Relation, University of Oxford:
How do educational contexts influence life chances?

Julian L. Garritzmann, University of Konstanz and University of Zurich:
Do voters really want social investment?

Alex Horn, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University:
Can the Scandinavian welfare states remain the champions of social investment?

Jon Kvist, Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University:
Can we fight poverty and exclusion through social investment?

The workshop is organized by Kees Van Kersbergen and Carsten Jensen, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, e-mails: kvk@ps.au.dk / carstenj@ps.au.dk