International Conference: Digitalisation, New Forms of Work and the Welfare State

Event: Social Justice and Trade Unions

FES Beijing co-organised a side-conference at the 14th International Forum on Social Security where European, Chinese, Japanese and Korean experts discussed policy approaches to meet the challenges digitalisation and new forms of work pose to the welfare state.

In China as well as in Germany, digitalization and new forms of work pose great challenges to the welfare state. In the current early stages of economic transformation, automatisation leads to a decreasing number of contributors to the system of social security, but, at least in the short term, could lead to an increasing number of persons depending on financial support of the state. At the same time, the welfare state runs the risk of being undermined by new forms of work. Persons who offer services through platforms acquire much fewer entitlements to later social security payments, if any at all. The welfare state oriented towards the Bismarckian model shrinks and covers and increasingly lower share of the working population.

In light of these current developments, the FES, in cooperation with the China Association of Social Security (CAoSS) co-organised this year’s conference on “Digitalisation, New Forms of Work and the Welfare State” on September 14-16 in Dalian. The conference was held as a side-event to the “XIV International Forum on Social Security”, which is held every year in turn in China, Japan and South Korea.

The co-organisers invited a number of renowned international experts to the conference. Experts invited by FES were Prof. Dr. Daniel Buhr, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schroeder, Dr. Dorothee Spannagel and Prof. Dr. Klaus Petersen. In their presentations, they discussed various social policy responses states have taken to these new challenges, and various more comprehensive policy responses states could take in the future. Yet again, when discussing specific areas of social security, it became clear how similar the challenges the different states face are. While a policy response that will solve all problems of social security remains yet to be found, all experts from Europe and Asia agreed that the international exchange on research results analyzing the effectiveness of social policies was highly useful for their future work. The conference led to a deeper mutual understanding between the countries, and contributed to the joint search for responses to the current challenges to social security.

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