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On the way to welfare 4.0? Digitalisation of the welfare state in labour market, health care and innovation policy: A European comparison

Increasing digitalisation is penetrating all areas of the economy, society and politics. This is triggering changes in many areas, which will naturally also affect welfare states. Digitalisation is changing not only industrial production, but also how participation in politics and society is organised; how states and governments provide social services; how participation in the labour market works; how health care services are delivered; and so on. Whereas some studies focus on the risks of digitalisation for the labour market and predict an “end of work” (cf. Frey/Osborne 2013; BMAS 2015), other authors highlight the opportunities that digitalisation offers for social innovation (Buhr 2015; 2016). Such opportunities can be harnessed by means of targeted coordination and change-management if Industry 4.0 also becomes Welfare 4.0. There is currently no in-depth research available into the consequences of digitalisation in and for contemporary welfare states and their adjustment towards Welfare 4.0. However, a number of fundamental questions need to be answered. What effects might digitalisation have on health-care systems? How is labour market policy changing? What role does innovation policy play? How far have developments in individual welfare states progressed? What further developments can we expect? And how will the key players in the relevant policy areas react to these? The questions raised are examined in this study conducted by a group of political scientists from the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen on behalf of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Under the title On the Way to Welfare 4.0?, both the status of digitalisation and its effects on the fields of labour market, health-care and innovation policy are examined.