WellSIRe - Wellbeing Returns on Social Investment Recalibration, Ph.D. scholarships

The Department of Political and Social Sciences accepts applications for three doctoral research scholarships in the framework of the ERC research project “Wellbeing Returns on Social Investment Recalibration (WellSIRe) led by Prof. Anton Hemerijck.


The Project

The ERC research programme WellSIRe assesses the role of social investment policies in 21st century welfare states in post-industrial European societies. Social investment policies transcend welfare state provision beyond ex-post income compensation to ex-ante risk-prevention and capacitation. The objective is to enhance people’s opportunities and capabilities to resolve social risks typical of post-industrial societies ex-ante, while ensuring the high levels of (quality) employment necessary to sustain the ‘carrying capacity’ of popular welfare states. Arguably, this requires a far wider ambit of policy interventions across the entire life course than traditional social security. The WellSire project combines sociological and political science approaches to analyse ‘wellbeing returns’ on social investment reform across countries, focusing on vulnerable groups in the working-age population and families with children. The empirical assessment of returns on social investment tackles the critical role of three complementary policy functions: (1) improving the lifelong stock of human capital; (2) easing the flow of gendered labour market and family life-course transitions; and (3) maintaining and updating inclusive social protection buffers, both in the present and over time. To grasp the complementarities of these policy functions and their welfare returns, WellSIRe develops a mixed methodology combining quantitative-macro analyses of welfare performance, quantitative-micro analyses of individual socioeconomic conditions and subjective wellbeing, and qualitative-institutional analysis of national social investment reform. Successful candidates will conduct an innovative PhD thesis on the welfare state of 21st century and contribute to one or more of the three main research streams within the project:

  1. Social investment policy mixes and their effect on individuals’ life-course transitions with respect to employment and poverty at the micro level;
  2. Social investment policy mixes and their effect on subjective wellbeing and people’s capabilities to fulfil their work-life balance aspirations;
  3. Sequences of social policy reforms and pathways to social investment recalibration processes at a national and subnational level across a representative set of EU member states.


Doctoral Researchers, Eligibility Criteria, How to Apply

The Ph.D. candidates will be selected in the framework of the regular Ph.D. recruitment procedure for the Department of Political and Social Sciences (SPS), as they will also have to register with the department’s doctoral programme. The selected candidates will participate fully in the regular EUI Ph.D. programme and will be expected to fulfil the same requirements as other doctoral researchers in the SPS department. Unlike other EUI Ph.D. candidates, however, they will be financed by the ERC project and prepare their dissertation in the framework of the project. 

  • The doctoral programme for all Ph.D. candidates, including the three ERC-funded candidates, starts on 1 September 2021.

Eligibility criteria

  • Master's degree (or equivalent) in Sociology, Comparative Politics, Public policy, Social policy, Economics, or related field, to be completed by 31 August 2021.
  • Interest in EU social policies, particularly in relation to poverty reduction, employment growth, and the life course (some prior research experience an advantage);
  • Orientation towards quantitative empirical analysis, involving applied socio-economic analysis using STATA/R (research streams 1–2);
  • An understanding of statistical analyses using pooled time-series data and/or longitudinal survey data an advantage (research streams 1–2);
  • Prior experience with mixed-methods and qualitative reform process tracing (research stream 3);
  • Readiness to work in a team of researchers and to enrol in the regular EUI Ph.D. programme.

How to Apply

  • To apply please see: Applications for the Ph.D. Programme in Political and Social Sciences
  • Deadline for applications: 31 January 2021 at midnight (Florence Time)
  • No separate funding application is required. SPS Candidates that wish to apply for the WellSIRe scholarships must select the relevant option on the 'Funding Authorities' section of the online application form


Grants and Allowances

  • Monthly grant: 1.400 EUR
  • Family allowance: yes
  • Travel allowance: yes
  • Insurance: yes

The WellSIRe Project provides a monthly grant and relevant allowances for four years.

Selected candidates do not pay the programme's tuition fee.


Funding Authority 

WellSIRe “Wellbeing Returns on Social Investment Recalibration”, ERC Project


EUI Academic Service, Admissions Office

Page last updated on 27 November 2020

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