|Name||211E19 Digitalisation and the Welfare State|
|Department||Institut for Statskundskab|
|Teacher||Kees van Kersbergen|
|Course type||Tomplads Ordinær Udveksling|
|Course catalogue id||94237|
Description of qualifications:
<p>In today’s advanced economies, technological change in the fields of computing, communication technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics is proceeding at in increasingly fast rate and is having major implications for the political economy of the welfare state. This course focuses on the question whether, to what extent and how digitalisation affects the political economy of the welfare state.</p> <p>The current political-economy and welfare-state literature revolves around two opposite views.</p> <p>The optimists hold that digitalisation, for instance the emergence of online platforms, helps to create new and uniquely flexible opportunities for work, especially in markets where individuals can monetise private assets (rooms, cars) with the help of digital technology and provide services at low prices. The digital transformation leads to a more egalitarian labour market, because the platform economy breaks open “insider-dominated” markets and creates new ones from which former “outsiders” profit. The political problem of welfare state recalibration that this causes (e.g. in the fields of labour regulation, social security, interest representation and mediation etc.) is merely a temporary one. Governments adapt to digitalisation by using the new abundance of information and social knowledge that new technologies create to the benefit of effective social policy-making in different public sectors and to the great advantage of the social provision for citizens. “Telemedicine”, for instance, improves access to health care services, increases efficiency and empowers patients.</p> <p>The pessimists, in contrast, note that the welfare state is having a hard time adapting to the challenges of digitalization. The digital revolution may make more information available more quickly, but more information does not imply better social knowledge that is useful for policy-making. Digitalisation is eroding the foundations of the welfare state, circumventing existing labour market regulation and industrial relations, undermining risk solidarity and social protection, and narrowing the tax base for the welfare state’s financial resources. “Platform workers”, for example, challenge traditional categories for social insurance, tend to be unprotected, and can unfairly compete, nationally and globally, on price with workers with standard contracts. In addition, further labour market polarisation and rising inequality result from accelerating technological change, with negative knock-on effects on social mobility and health outcomes. The most pessimistic scenarios of automation and artificial intelligence envision the end of work and unprecedented mass unemployment and at the same time declare solutions such as a universal basic income as economically unfeasible and politically unrealistic.</p> <p>Topics we study include the impact of the digital revolution on the labour market and its institutions (e.g. unions, wage bargaining, employment policies and regulation), new social risks, individual social-policy attitudes and preferences for social insurance and redistribution, service delivery, health and care, social insurance (e.g. pensions, unemployment provisions, health care insurance), taxation and education and (skill) training.</p>
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