Comparative research was long constrained by a lack of relevant and reliable data, particularly in the field of social policy where expenditure data often is used. More precise indicators on the institutional design of social policies in areas that are crucial for living conditions and capabilities of citizens are, however, often required, a type of institutional information not easily extracted from official data sources. Instead, 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 Swedish Institute for Social Research provided considerable momentum towards better understanding of the ways in which countries have 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:

  • The Social Insurance Entitlements Dataset (SIED)
  • The Parental Leave Benefit Dataset (PLB)
  • The Child Benefit Dataset (CBD)*
  • The Social Assistance and Minimum Income Protection Interim Dataset (SAMIP)
  • Social Policy in East Asia Dataset (SPEAD)**
  • The Child Care Dataset (CCD)**
  • The Unemployment Benefits Dataset (UBD)**

*Soon to be published online

**Currently under development.

 

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 policy making.

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 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 and parts of Asia and Latin America. The following countries are in different ways included in SPIN: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, 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.