About the database

The need to move from descriptive to causal analyses of social change has long been recognized in the social sciences. Due to the difficulties of conducting experimental studies, social scientists use comparisons between countries and over time as fruitful strategies to analyze central processes in modern societies.



Photo: Elin Sahlin

Comparative research was long constrained by a lack of relevant and reliable data, particularly in the field of social policy where expenditure data were often used. More precise indicators on the institutional design of social policies in areas that are crucial for living conditions and capabilities of citizens are not easily extracted, codified, and harmonized from official sources and policy documents. A considerable amount of basic research is required concerning both conceptualization and measurement of institutional structures embedded within the welfare state.

The establishment of the path breaking Social Citizenship Indicator Program (SCIP) at the Swedish Institute for Social Research provided considerable momentum towards better understanding of the ways in which countries had organized their welfare states. SPIN is a development of the advancements made possible by the SCIP-database. SPIN is organized in data modules covering different policy areas or geographical regions. Besides the Social Citizenship Indicator Program (SCIP), the SPIN database stores seven different data modules, and also carries out ongoing projects that will add additional modules.

SPIN data can be used for a number of different research purposes, where a few examples of research areas are worth mentioning:

Targeting versus universalism

SPIN includes detailed quantitative information about the structure of several different types of cash benefit programs, facilitating more detailed assessments of the causes and consequences of various institutional designs in policymaking.

Intergenerational relations and social justice

SPIN takes on an explicit life cycle perspective, facilitating analyses of inter-generational relations. Do countries satisfy the demand for social protection of all generations or are the needs of the young, middle-aged and the elderly in opposition and differently favored by the welfare state?

Public services

SPIN is not only oriented towards cash benefit programs, but also addresses the interplay between cash and care. We are in the process of establishing new comparative data on child care arrangements, including financing, coverage and quality of services.

Fiscal arrangements

SPIN involves efforts to measure the “hidden” welfare state of fiscal policy, including the extent to which countries have introduced various forms of tax allowances and credits, not least for families with children.

Social class and gender relations

SPIN is designed to address how welfare states affect class and gender relations, for example by our focus on family policy, parental leave benefits and degree of income protection across earnings-levels.

Global social policy

SPIN is broadened beyond longstanding OECD-member countries and collects comparative social policy data for all EU countries, North America and parts of Oceania, Asia and Latin America. The following countries are in different ways included in SPIN: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.



The expandable lists below includes recent publications that utilize various modules in the SPIN data. A full publication list, also containing publications using early and preliminary versions of SPIN data modules, such as SSIB (Svensk socialpolitik i internationell belysning), can be found here:

Full publication list: 

Publications 1989-2022

Baranowska-Rataj, A. (2022). The impact of the parental division of paid labour on depressive symptoms: The moderating role of social policies. Acta Sociologica, 65(3), 275-292. DOI: 10.1177/0001699321106626

Baranowska-Rataj, A., Högberg, B., & Bernardi, L. (2022). Parental unemployment and adolescent wellbeing – the moderating role of educational policies. LIVES Working Paper, 91/2022. DOI: 10.12682/lives.2296-1658.2022.91

Billingsley, S., Neyer, G., & Wesolowski, K. (2022). Social investment policies and childbearing across 20 countries: Longitudinal and micro-level analyses. European Journal of Population, DOI: 10.1007/s10680-022-09626-3

Bridgen, P., Meyer, T., & Davison, L. (2022). It’s not late entry: human capital, welfare states and the pension penalty experienced by post-war migrants who retired in the European Economic Area. Ageing & Society, 1-33. DOI: 10.1017/S0144686X21001811

Byun, Y-H. (2022). Welfare expansion without inequality reduction: Institutional explanation of old-age poverty in Korea. Journal of Social Policy, 1-21. DOI: 10.1017/S0047279422000460

Calnitsky, D. (2022). The policy road to socialism. Critical Sociology, 48(3), 397-422. DOI: 10.1177/08969205211031624

Czarnecki, K. (2022). Political party families and student social rights. Journal of European Social Policy, 32(3), 317-332. DOI: 10.1177/09589287221080704

Diop-Christensen, A., & Diop, L.E. (2022). What do asylum seekers prioritise – safety or welfare benefits? The influence of policies on asylum flows to the EU15 countries. Journal of Refugee Studies, 35(2), 849-873. DOI: 10.1093/jrs/feab077

Gray, E., Reimondos, A., Lazzari, E., Breuinig, R., Steinhauser, R., Zhang, J., Biddle, N., & Gray, M. (2022). Impacts of Policies on Fertility Rates. Australian National University. 

Kayran, E.N., & Kolbe., M. (2022). Institutional sources of trust resilience in diverse societies: The mitigating role of inclusive and egalitarian welfare state institutions. In Crepaz, M. M. L. (Ed.) Handbook on Migration and Welfare, pp. 276-296. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Nelson, K., Borg, I., & Nieuwenhuis, R., & Alm, S. (2022). The political determinants of housing benefits, European Sociological Review, 1-14, DOI: 10.1093/esr/jcac042.

Röth, L., Spies, D., Schmidt-Catran, A. (2022). From immigration over redistributive attitudes to welfare spending. The moderating role of social program design. European Political Science Review, 14, 498-519. DOI: 10.1017/S1755773922000327

Van Gerven, M., Mesiäislehto, M., Saikku, P., Ollonqvist, J., Malava, T., & Tuominen, N. (2022). Eri poluilla työllisyyteen: Suomen sosiaaliturvajärjestelmän erityispiirteet ja ongelmakohdat kansainvälisessä vertailussa. Valtioneuvoston Selvitys- ja Tutkimustoiminnan Julkaisusarja, 2022:51.

Wiß, T. (2022). Continental European welfare states. In Greve, B. (Ed.), De Gruyter Handbook of Contemporary Welfare States, 65-84. DOI: 10.1515/9783110721768-005

Ayaz, M., Fricke, L., Fuest, C., & Sachs, D. (2021). Who Should Bear the Burden of Covid-19 Related Fiscal Pressure? An Optimal Income Taxation Perspective. CESifo Working Paper, No. 9420, Center for Economic Studies and ifo Institute (CESifo), Munich.

Baranowska-Rataj, A., Högberg, B., & Bernardi, L. (2021). Parental unemployment and adolescent wellbeing: The moderating role of educational policies.

Baranowska-Rataj, A., & Strandh, M. (2021). When things go wrong with you, it hurts me too: The effects of partner’s employment status on health in comparative perspective. Journal of European Social Policy, 31(2), 143-160.

Bolukbasi, H. T., Öktem, K. G., & Savaş, E. (2021). Measuring welfare states beyond the three worlds: Refining state-of-the-art tools. Social Policy & Administration. Online first article, DOI: 10.1111/spol.12708.

Bridgen, P. (2021). Incremental or paradigm-shifting? Evidence about the retrenchment of public pension schemes in the industrialised world from expenditure and replacement rate data, 1980-2015. In Greve, B. (Ed.), Handbook on Austerity, Populism, and the Welfare State, pp. 244-264. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Cronert, A. (2021). Unemployment benefits in the 21st century: New dimensions of retrenchment and the roles of austerity and populism. In Greve, B., editor, Handbook on Austerity, Populism and the Welfare State, pages 265–280. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Diop-Christensen, A. and Diop, L. E. (2021). What do asylum seekers prioritise—safety or welfare benefits? The influence of policies on asylum flows to the EU15 countries. Journal of Refugee Studies. Online first article, DOI: 10.1093/jrs/feab077/6329893.

Forslund, M. (2021). Is it adding up? The cumulative effect of sickness benefits on life expectancy in old age in 15 OECD countries 1960–2015. Health & Place, 70:102607.

Fredriksson, D. (2021). Reducing unemployment? Examining the interplay between active labour market policies. Social Policy & Administration, 55(1):1–17.

Jutz, R. (2021). Health inequalities in Europe: Does a minimum income protection make a difference?. Current Sociology, 69(1), 99-118. DOI: 10.1177/0011392119890657

Mårtensson, M., Österman, M., Palme, J., and Ruhs, M. (2021). Shielding free movement? Reciprocity in welfare institutions and opposition to EU labour immigration. Journal of European Public Policy. Online first article, DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2021.1981980.

Nelson, K. and Nieuwenhuis, R. (2021). Towards a new consolidated framework for analysing benefit coverage. Journal of European Social Policy, 31(3):352–362.

Nieuwenhuis, R., Goedemé, T., Dalén, P., Delanghe, H., Doctrinal, L., Nelson, K., Sirén, S., & Penne, T. (2021). A New Framework for Data on Public Service: Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and Compulsory Education. Deliverable 9.6, Leuven, InGRID-2 project. 

Rasmussen, M., & Knutsen, C. (2021). Party Institutionalization and Welfare State Development. British Journal of Political Science, 51(3), 1203–1229. 

Wesolowski, K., Billingsley, S., Neyer, G. (2021). Family policy support for the earner-carer and traditional-family models in Lithuania and Sweden. In Aidukaite, J., Hort, S.E.O., Kuhnle, S. (Eds.), Challenges to the Welfare State: Family and Pension Policies in the Baltic and Nordic Countries, 72-94. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Bandau, F., & Ahrens, L. (2020). The impact of partisanship in the era of retrenchment: Insights from quantitative welfare state research. Journal of European Social Policy, 30(1), 34-47.

de Breij, S., Huisman, M., & Deeg, D. J. (2020). Educational differences in macro-level determinants of early exit from paid work: a multilevel analysis of 14 European countries. European Journal of Ageing, 17(2), 217-227.

de Breij, S., Huisman, M., & Deeg, D.J. (2020). Macro-level determinants of post-retirement health and health inequalities: A multilevel analysis of 18 European countries. Social Science & Medicine, 245. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112669

Breznau, N. (2020). Bi-Directional Feedback to the Welfare State and Public Opinion

Damme, M. (2020). The negative female educational gradient of union dissolution: Towards an explanation in six European countries. In Mortelmans, D. (Ed.), Divorce in Europe: New insights in trends, causes and consequences of relation break-ups (pp. 93-122).

Ferragina, E. (2020). Family policy and women's employment outcomes in 45 high-income countries: A systematic qualitative review of 238 comparative and national studies. Social Policy & Administration, 54(7), 1016-1066.

Herd, D., Kim, Y., & Carrasco, C. (2020). Canada's Forgotten Poor?: Putting Singles Living in Deep Poverty on the Policy Radar. IRPP. 

Kenworthy, L. (2020). Social Democratic Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Knutsen, C. H., & Rasmussen, M. B. (2020). Majoritarian systems, rural groups, and (arrested) welfare state development. International Political Science Review, 41(2), 238– 254.

Nelson, K., Fredriksson, D., Korpi, T., Korpi, W., Palme, J. and O. Sjöberg. (2020). The Social Policy Indicators (SPIN) database. International Journal of Social Welfare. 29 (3). 285–289.

Noël, A. (2020). Is social investment inimical to the poor?. Socio-Economic Review, 18(3), 857–880.

Noël, A. (2020). The politics of minimum income protection in the Canadian provinces. Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique, 53(2), 399– 420.

Palme, M., & Persson, M. (2020). Sick Pay Insurance and Sickness Absence: Some European Cross-Country Observations and a Review of Previous Research. Journal of Economic Surveys, 34(1), 85-108.

Seo, C. H. (2020). A Study on Factors Influencing the Status of the Working Poor in Welfare States. Doctoral dissertation, The University of Texas at Arlington.

Swank, D. (2020). The partisan politics of new social risks in advanced postindustrial democracies: Social protection for labor market outsiders. In Careja, R., Emmenegger, P., and Giger, N., editors, The European Social Model under Pressure: Liber Amicorum in Honour of Klaus Armingeon, pages 139–157. Springer VS.

Van Damme, M. (2020). The negative female educational gradient of union dissolution: Towards an explanation in six European countries. In Divorce in Europe (pp. 93-122). Cham: Springer.

Van Gunten, T., & Kohl, S. (2020). The inversion of the ‘really big trade-off’: homeownership and pensions in long-run perspective. West European Politics, 43(2), 435-463.

Wesolowski, K. (2020). It’s all about the money? Family policies, individual gender-role attitudes, and childbearing intentions in an international perspective. Journal of Family Issues, 41(11), 2065–2089.

Wesolowski, K., Billingsley, S., & Neyer, G. (2020). Disentangling the complexity of family policies: SPIN data with an application to Lithuania and Sweden, 1995–2015. Demographic Research, 43, 1235-1262.

Öktem, K. G. (2020). The welfare state as universal social security: A global analysis. Social Inclusion, 8(1), 103-113.



As a longstanding project and research infrastructure, SPIN and its precursor, the Social Citizenship Indicator Program (SCIP), has received numerous grants from various sources.

Currently, SPIN is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation) and Vetenskapsrådet (Swedish Research Council) with co-financing from the Swedish Institute for Social Research.

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