Rights and duties legislated in such programs form a key part of modern welfare states and of what T. H. Marshall termed social citizenship rights. The SCIP was initiated by Walter Korpi in the early 1980’s to establish a theoretically relevant and empirically reliable set of institutional data for comparative welfare state research with a focus on political and other factors of relevance for development of social citizenship rights. During the initial phase, Gösta Esping-Andersen made very valuable contributions to the program. At an early stage, Joakim Palme became its co-director.

SCIP provides an alternative and a complement to comparative welfare state research using information on social expenditure available from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Here detailed information are provided on citizens’ rights and duties based on legislation related to five major programs, that is, old age pensions, benefits in the cases of sickness, unemployment and work accidents, as well as family support. SCIP includes 18 countries with uninterrupted political democracy during the postwar period, that is, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA. Information refers to fourteen time points: 1930, 1933, 1939, 1947, 1950, and thereafter every fifth year up to 1995.

The web-version of SCIP contains the documentation of the major social insurance programs for the different time points as well as a datafile in SPSS-format. The web-page will be subsequently updated with more information in relation to new time points, taxation, additional social policy programs as well as political and economic indicators..
Our data collection began long before the emergence of internet. Since a comparative-historical data base on social citizenship rights of this scope had not been attempted before, it was very difficult to estimate work requirements for this undertaking. In spite of our considerable experiences in carrying out several large-scale national surveys and also in collecting comparative historical data, we grossly underrated the work and time demand for this task. Major problems emerged in the location and interpretation of information sources. Furthermore, during the 1980s an increasing number of countries began to tax social insurance benefits, necessitating us to calculate not only gross benefits but also after-tax benefits. Standard sources, such as those from ILO and OECD, were of some help but most information had to be searched from diverse national sources. This piecemeal uncovering of data presented problems. New information had to be evaluated as to its comparability with earlier data, evaluations not infrequently necessitating revisions of earlier interpretations. During this work, we have received very valuable help from country experts. Yet our experience indicates that to maintain comparability among countries and over time, data collection had to be concentrated to one working group, in this case program directors and a group of graduate students. As it now stands the data base contains information referring to over 200 000 data points.

In this context, the low credit presently accorded to data collection relative to publication creates free-rider problems within the social science community. It has therefore been necessary for us to have a moratorium before placing assembled data in the public domain. This need has been recognized by the International Sociological Association (see “ISA Ethical Guidelines”, ISA Bulletin, no. 72, Spring 1997).

The database is a result of a collective effort which over the years has involved a large number of people: research assistants, graduate students, national informants, international colleagues, and our administrative staff. They are too many to be listed here, but we thank each one of them for their contribution to make this collective work possible.

Stockholm in June 2008.
Walter Korpi and Joakim Palme