Fit for crisis?

From spring 2020, Covid-19 increased socio-economic inequality as never before. But little is known about its long-term consequences. The project investigates how social policy was redefined to mitigate effects of the pandemic.

  • Project description

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    Swiss social policy evolves slowly by international standards. Nevertheless, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the marked responsiveness of numerous social welfare measures. While attention often focused on federal-level measures, such as setting up and rolling out furlough in a matter of weeks, local social policy also had an important role to play. We do not yet have an overview to help us understand the full range of responses adopted by the Cantons and municipalities.

    This project sets out to document the range of responses and explain how local-level social policy contributed to preventing people from becoming vulnerable in the medium term.

  • Background

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    A debate is taking place in social policy literature. Some studies indicate that responses to the crisis show evidence of ad hoc, temporary modifications whereas others underscore the transformative potential of the pandemic towards the development of more inclusive social policies. By studying the responses adopted at local level in Switzerland, this project aims to contribute to the debate and enhance our understanding of the factors essential for constructing resilient social policies.

  • Aim

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    This project aims to document the range of social policy responses during the pandemic and to investigate their effects on the pathways of welfare recipients. Based on a mixed (qualitative and quantitative) and longitudinal research design, it will make it possible to identify innovative practices for the purpose of informing the social policies of tomorrow, particularly in the context of future crises.

  • Relevance

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    The project will provide medium-term longitudinal follow-up of a type that is currently lacking in our understanding of the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences. Furthermore, by using comprehensive administrative data to study the pathways of welfare recipients, the project will help document a population that has been insufficiently studied, is difficult to reach and is generally under-represented in surveys, but which has been particularly impacted by the pandemic.

  • Application

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    The results of the project will provide input for the social policies of tomorrow. On the one hand, they will highlight the good practices, as well as the contextual and organisational factors, that boost or impede the responsiveness of local social policies in times of crisis. On the other, they will make it possible to identify target groups that have been particularly affected by the pandemic among welfare recipients as well as the destabilising forces at work.

  • Original title

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    Fit for Crisis? Social Policy in Times of Covid-19: a Longitudinal Mixed-Method Approach