(Sources: David Ellwood’s 2003 site visit, Jon Hippe’s presentation on Fafo during Harvard Inequality Summer Institute June 19, 2004, and Fafo’s website, August 2005)
Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research aims at providing research-based knowledge to government, labor unions, corporations, and NGOs, with a particular interest in governing systems, markets, and democratic systems. Fafo cooperates with public agencies, ministries, companies and civil society actors. Fafo, which was originally founded by the Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions in 1982, became an independent foundation in 1993, funded jointly by organized labor and six multinational corporations. Now the center’s funding comes from its own foundation monies, government support, and project work.
Fafo places heavy research emphasis on labor markets and welfare state reforms as well as issues of immigration and integration. The institute explores inequality from an institutional perspective, asking how key social actors function, with a focus on quantitative data, often relying on surveys that they conduct themselves. They have excellent longitudinal registry data, which has tracked Norwegians’ income, social assistance, family and other data since 1992, as well as firm level data on income and living and working conditions. Fafo can offer Inequality Fellows a wide field of research interests, including issues of immigration, adult education, gender relations, family-friendly workplace policies and comparative labor institutions, among others.
Fafo employs about 50 researchers. Most of them are sociologists, political scientists and anthropologists, but there are also a few economists, and one psychologist.
Fafo has links to faculty of the University of Oslo and carries out joint projects with other leading Norwegian research centers, such as the Institute for Social Research (ISF), the Norwegian Social Research Institute (NOVA), and the Advanced Research Institute on the Europeanization of the Nation State (ARENA). Fafo is not only known for its research activities, but also as the home of the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Agreements.
This research group, which carries out
comparative studies on an international level, also organizes the National Work and Enterprise survey, which is a large-scale company-based survey on inequality at the workplace. It focuses on larger institutional actors and on industrial relations systems, exploring how they are shaped and how they themselves shape working conditions and labor markets.
The research topics addressed by this research unit are
• Collective bargaining, dispute resolution, trade unions and employer organizations
• Changes in labor markets, wages, working conditions and enterprise participation
• Impact of globalization and European integration on industrial relations
• Renewal of labour market organizations and regulation in a comparative perspective
According to Fafo’s August 2005 website, this research group focuses on welfare to work-oriented approaches in Norwegian employment and welfare policies, highlighting the labor market situation of socially excluded groups.
The major research questions addressed by this research group are:
What are the main characteristics of a well-functioning labor market?
How can improvements in the development and management of human resources be facilitated?
MAJOR RESEARCH TOPICS
Labor market integration : people with disabilities, older employees, long-term social benefit recipients, and immigrants/refugees are groups often excluded from the labour market. The Agreement for an Inclusive Working Life and the social responsibility
of companies are the focus of this research area.
Immigration and integration : evaluations of Introductory Programs and other integration measures; education and competence development; living- and labour market conditions; family policy and gender perspectives
Qualification, competence, and continuing and vocational education : Continuing education policy; learning and conditions of learning in working life; supply and demand in the competence market; the impact of education and training on wages, career development and employability; educational measures for vulnerable groups; social partner cooperation on the competence reform; lifelong learning.
The goal of this research group is “to develop action-oriented research on the welfare consequences of different social policy measures. This involves examining issues like the interplay between working life and welfare policy; the relation between service delivery and living conditions; and the effects of welfare measures on living conditions. Several projects have a comparative perspective, and we study changes in the services and benefits of the welfare state.
Important research issues:
Poverty and income maintenance: Social assistance and social security, poverty alleviation, social exclusion, poverty among children and youths, living conditions among the poor
Pension systems: Public and private pensions, the national social security system, income maintenance, and living conditions.
Public services: Management, organisation, and coordination;services directed towards vulnerable groups; working conditions and privatisation; evaluation and improvement of the services.
Comparative social policy: Eastern Europe and the Baltic countries; European integration; globalisation.
Living conditions of vulnerable groups: Persons with complex health and social problems; poor people and long time receivers of social assistance; the homeless; elderly and disabled; prisoners.”
This research group studies market
developments, technological change,
corporate responsibility and new types of
employer-employee partnerships. Their interest also lies in researching new types of corporate ownership and their links to productivity and other industrial behaviors. This group has recently collaborated with Richard Freeman from the Economics Department at Harvard to examine how different types of employment relationships affect productivity. They are analyzing mechanisms for shifting risks between employers and works. In Norway, employers currently bear most of the risks, in contrast to the U.S.
The datasets available at Fafo include a recent dataset on the material conditions of families with children and datasets on the living conditions of immigrants, time series labor force surveys, and highly detailed individual, longitudinal data using tax and benefit registry data collected in Norway from 1992 onward. One can follow individual social assistance trajectories, sickness, maternity, and employment. Fafo also uses detailed living standard surveys collected in many geographic areas, including Eastern Europe, Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan, South Africa, and Western China.
Inequality Fellows are advised to email Fafo about two months before their arrival to let her know what dataset/s they need. Fafo may then apply for use of these datasets for a limited amount of time. Data from Statistics Norway is free and easily accessible. The Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD) owns regional data, individual-level data, and data on the political system.
Inequality Fellows’ main administrative contact at Fafo is Fafo’s Executive Assistant. For help with accommodation, Fellows are advised to email the executive assistant, who will give them the name of the person at the Foundation for Student Life in Oslo Inequality Fellows need to contact for renting a student apartment.