“Political Economy and Social Policy of Western Europe”
November 11, 2005
College of Arts and Sciences; West European Studies; Department of Economics;
Conference Organizers: Roy Gardner, Chancellor’s Professor of Economics and Remak Professor of West European Studies (email@example.com); Gerhard Glomm, Professor of Economics (firstname.lastname@example.org); and Jeffrey Hart, Professor of Political Science (email@example.com).
The conference addresses the twin themes of political economy and social policy in the Western European members of the EU. Those themes encompass some of largest issues facing advanced industrial economies around the world. One such issue is unemployment. With unemployment rates averaging double digits across Europe, and long-term unemployment (1 year or longer without work) exceeding 3 million in the Eurozone alone, and headlines such as “Germany braces for 5 million unemployed” (Financial Times 25.01.2005), this is the single most urgent issue in Europe today — an issue that transcends both economics and political science. Of course, unemployment is not an issue confined to Western Europe, as shown by the growing concern with unemployment in China, with forecasts of PRC unemployment 100 million by 2020, or the role played by unemployment in the recent American presidential election. Unemployment brings in its wake a series of further social issues, such as the role of women in the work force, family breakdown, and family violence. Our invited speakers possess expertise on the broad issue of European unemployment and its consequences, and will bring that expertise to bear on the theme of the conference.
A second large issue is the welfare state, a Western European institutional invention which finds itself greatly distressed in the 21st Century. Our invited speakers will speak to this issue as well. Indeed, there are important linkages between long-run unemployment and various features of the welfare state, which will come to light in the course of the conference. The welfare state encompasses such policy arenas as pensions and social security, which are of major interest today not just in Europe but also in the USA and Japan — all economies with a demographic tending towards median age above 50.
Finally, the conference will look ahead with a roundtable on Lessons Learned: What the Western European Experience Teaches Us Going Forward. The roundtable, consisting of experts from Indiana University units sponsoring the conference, but backed up by the invited speakers, will provide the campus audience with a roadmap for wiser economic and social policy in advanced industrial economies on the large issues of unemployment and social welfare.
Tito Boeri, Bocconi University