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Researchers chart path toward modernised welfare state

The Swiss National Science Foundation is launching a major research project which is aimed at modernising social security programmes that are increasingly cash-strapped due to an ageing population and mounting benefit payments.

This content was published on November 1, 1999 - 14:26

The Swiss National Science Foundation is launching a major research project which is aimed at modernising social security programmes that are increasingly cash-strapped due to an ageing population and mounting benefit payments.

Swiss and international researchers involved in 30 to 40 projects are addressing such issues as the working poor, insurance models for old age pensions and how to tackle unemployment.

Scientists addressing the working poor problem will try to find out how many people belong to this category, who they are and how they fell under the poverty line despite holding a full-time job.

The financing of old age pensions will also be a key area for research since the growing number of pensioners is posing a significant burden on federal coffers.

Scientists will therefore take a hard look at developing alternate models of financing personal and federal insurance programmes.

In a clear sign of the times, banks and insurance companies in Switzerland have already stepped up their range of retirement savings programmes, signalling a trend toward beefing up state payments with more comprehensive private insurance plans.

Unemployment, even though it has been decreasing in Switzerland for months, will also come under scrutiny from researchers.

They will particularly try to come up with proposals on how to avoid a potentially dangerous split between those who have a job and those people who do not.

Leading politicians have repeatedly warned in the past year of the potential threat to social cohesion if the problem of the long-term unemployed is not resolved.

The Swiss National Science Foundation’s research programme, called “Problems of the Welfare State,” will run for five years and will regularly present policy recommendations and relevant findings to parliament and the government.

From staff and wire reports.

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