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A comparative analysis of the impact of efforts to improve the labour market prospects of youth with weak labour market attachment in The Nordic cou...

Schedule: 2014-2016
Employer: Arbeids- og sosialdepartementet


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Project Background

A main ambition of labour market programs is that young people with impaired work capacity and weak labour market attachment are given the opportunity to get a foothold in the labour market. Research shows that periods outside employment or education at a young age can have long-term consequences.

Project Purpose

The purpose of this project was to map and systematize scientific research in the Nordic countries dealing with the effects of measures intended to insert/maintain vulnerable young people into the labour market. Our target group is young people between 15 and 30 years.

In the comparative analysis we include Germany, the UK and the Netherlands in addition to the five Nordic countries. These are countries that are similar to a greater or lesser extent in terms of culture, history, institutions and labour market functioning. Similarities, and contrasts between measures, countries and over time can contribute to a better understanding of their impact across the region.

Based on the literature collected we construct a data set which is in turn used to carry out a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis is a statistical tool used to summarize many different and sometimes contradictory results and is intended to provide more solid evidence of what is reliable, durable and robust research results relative to what can be obtained from individual studies.

Project Results

All in all, the meta-analysis comprises approximately 425 effect estimates from 44 different research projects. Our conclusions confirm that training and wage subsidies give rise to more positive effect than work practice and public employment measures. It is also worth noting that the estimates tend to be more positive over time, which may indicate that a learning process occurs such that the measures are gradually becoming more efficient.

However, there is a large variation in the reported estimates, from clearly positive to definitely negative, which may indicate that there is indeed a significant variation in how well programs work for the target group they are designed for. In other words, there is no silver bullet. What is clear is that there are numerous examples of measures that seem to have had a positive impact, and that properly designed measures have the potential to help young people into work or further education.

Researchers: Inés Hardoy, Kristine von Simson, Tao Zhang, Knut Røed, Caroline Hall, Brian Krogh Graversen

Discrimination of Indigenous Samis, National minorities and Immigrants in Norway: An Overview of the Research Literature

Schedule: 2014-2015
Employer: Barne-, ungdoms og familiedirektoratet (Bufdir)

The aim of this project is to review the existing research on discrimination among indigenous Samis, national minorities and immigrants in contemporary Norway. What discrimination challenges to these groups meet in working life, the educational system and in the housing market? Are the discrimination challenges similar for all minority groups or do they vary according to the group’s different size, legal status and historical connection to Norway?



Media impact in the public service sector

Schedule: 2015-2018
Employer: NFR v/UIO

This project examines how a conflict-oriented, tabloid and dramatic news logic influences public welfare policies and administrative practices. News stories related to health and welfare are often emotional and critical. Online journalism, social media and 24/7 news cycles have intensified media pressure, demanding instant responses from affected stakeholders and propelling the development of sophisticated media strategies within public organizations.

In spite of the prominent role of the media in the debates over public welfare, the knowledge, both within media studies and in political science, is sparse regarding how the media affect the internal processes in ministries and agencies. Addressing this knowledge gap the project asks:

1) How does media coverage influence the allocation of public welfare resources?

2) How is the interplay between political leadership and public administration affected by a news logic?

3) How should government respond to media pressure on welfare issues and how can media-related practices improve?

4) How are fundamental values (fairness, solidarity and equality) of the welfare state challenged by the media and how can these processes be theorized?

The project contributes to the international research front by linking mediatization theory with theories on changes in public administration and welfare policies. Through the combination of qualitative ethnographic methods with extensive survey studies, the MIPS project contributes to a broader and deeper understanding of what is at stake should the public service increasingly adapt their structures and processes to media pressure.

Examining the normative implications and exploring alternatives to present media management, the MIPS team engages stakeholders within the public sector to critically evaluate the implications of current practices and propose alternative models for media management.

Researchers: Rune Karlsen, Tine Ustad Figenschou, Kristoffer Kolltveit, Thomas Schillemans, Kjersti Thorbjørnsrud

European Strains

Schedule: 2013-2018
Employer: Norges forskningsråd

Project Information

This project aims to understand:

  • The current crisis in Europe and its institutional responses, stressing the interaction between politics, economic development, and social change
  • The European migration, mobility, and economic growth in the light of national identities, and social and economic strains
  • The economic and political feasibility of the European Social Model emphasizing how temporary shocks may create permanent institutional changes once we incorporate economic, social, and political relations

Further information:

Researchers: Erling Barth, Marianne Røed, Pål Schøne, Henning Finseraas, Jan-Paul Brekke, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Simon Hix, Scott Gates, Halvor Mehlum, Steinar Holden

Gender Segregation in the Labour Market

Schedule: 2014-2018
Employer: Norges forskningsråd

Project background

This research project will investigate the ways in which women and men are unequally placed in the labour market. We will study the mechanisms that contribute to different educational choices among boys and girls, and what happens in the transition from education to work. Once men and women have entered the labour market, there are processes at play that contribute further to gender gaps in career development and wages. We will study how different welfare state arrangements affect these developments through comparing Norway with other countries.

Project structure

The research project consists of four main parts.

1) International comparisons across several countries, in order to investigate how different institutional contexts affect the extent to which men and women are  unequally distributed in the labour market.

2) Comparisons of female career patterns in the United States and Norway, with particular focus on access to top positions, recruitment policies and decision making within the household.

3) Boys' and girls' educational choices and performance, attitudes towards female- or male typical study programs, and consequences for labour market entry in Norway.

4) Mechanisms that channel men and women into different positions within the Norwegian labour market over the life course.

We will be using different kinds of data sources. Some questions will be answered by using available large scale survey data, some by using data from Norwegian public registries that follow the population over many years, and some by collecting new data through case studies and questionnaires.

The project team consists of researchers from the Institute for Social Research in collaboration with the University of Oslo and the Oslo and Akershus College of Applied Sciences. For the international comparisons we will collaborate with researchers at Boston University, Wellesley College, UC San Diego and the University of Basel.

Further project information and list of publications can be found in Prosjektbanken.

This project is connected to CORE – Center for Research on Gender Equality.

Media Coverage

The Gender Pay Gap Is Largely Because of Motherhood, 13.5.2017, New York Times

Further information (in Norwegian):

Researchers: Liza Reisel, Pål Schøne, Erling Barth, Mari Teigen, Anne Lise Ellingsæter, Inés Hardoy, Kjersti Misje Østbakken, Sigtona Halrynjo, Ragni Hege Kitterød, Kristinn Hegna, Christian Imdorf, Mary Blair-Loy, Claudia Olivetti, Sari Pekkala Kerr

Understanding the gender gap in sickness absence

Schedule: 2013-2016
Employer: NFR

In this project, we investigate three possible mechanisms behind the gender gap in sickness absence in Norway; (1) The importance of having children, (2) Investments in health and (3) Statistical discrimination.

            The first part of the project will give an overview of patterns in sickness absence over the lifecycle with an emphasis on the importance of having children in the family. We will also use instrumental variables methods to evaluate the causal impact of children on sickness absence.

            The second part of the project investigates the apparent paradox that women have higher sickness absence rates, but live longer than men. A possible explanation may be that women to a larger degree and at an earlier stage visit a doctor or in other ways take better care of their health. Another explanation is that there are biological differences between men and women in type of illness and how fast they recover. We wish to investigate the importance of differences in behavior by comparing behavior after illnesses that biologically affects men and women in the same way.

            The third part of the project investigates whether high female absence rates overall makes the threshold to be absent lower for the individual woman. One reason for this is that the employer may expect the woman to have higher sickness absence than a man, so that sickness absence will not serve as the same negative signal to the employer for women. The (career-) cost of staying home when ill can therefore be lower for women.

Researchers: Marte Strøm

Women in local politics

Schedule: 2014-2016
Employer: Kommunal- og regionaldepartementet




Project Approach

The project presents and discusses main results from previous research on factors that influence political recruitment in general, and women’s representation in local politics in particular.

We distinguish between explanatory factors at three different levels. The macro level refers to the national context, including institutional and cultural factors. The meso level refers to political parties and municipalities, and the micro level consists of individual actors such as voters and political candidates.

Moreover, we distinguish between a supply side and a demand side. The supply side includes the potential political candidates, while the demand side comprises the voters as well as gatekeepers within political parties, who may prefer male or female candidates.

Voluntary return from Norway

Schedule: 2013-2015
Employer: Utlendingsdirektoratet (UDI)

The aim of the research is to identify key factors that influence voluntary assisted return of third country nationals from Norway. With assistance from the International Organization of Migration, Norwegian authorities support failed asylum seekers and other non-EEA citizens that return to their country of origin.

The project is commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration as a joint venture between Christian Michelsens Institutt, Institute for Social Research (Oslo), The University of Bergen and Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

The research project will discuss the Norwegian return- and reintegration programs both from the perspectives of the Norwegian authorities and the migrants. Based on interview data and the statistical analyses we will discuss how each nationality must be understood as separate migration systems with specific traits and with its own sensibility towards return incentives. We look at bilateral movements for a selection of nationalities based on the relevant programs. We also seek to gain understanding of patterns and comparative elements. Changing conditions in the migrants´ home countries and the existence of transnational networks are pivotal for the understanding of return movements are all significant elements brought into the discussion.

The research is a two-module study. The first module consists of data that has been gathered in Norway and opens for discussions of what elicits voluntary assisted return. This will be followed by reintegration in a selection of countries of origin, i.e. in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Kosovo. The second report from the study will include an overall analysis covering both the return and the reintegration aspects of the Norwegian policy and practice.

Researchers: Jan-Paul Brekke, Hilde Lidén, Mari Teigen, Jørgen Carling, Erlend Paasche, Synnøve Kristine Nepstad Bendixen

Elites and society

Schedule: 2014-2016
Project Background

A decade ago the Norwegian Leadership Study 2000, in combination with the Citizenship study from the same year, demonstrated that elites in Norway supported democracy and democratic institutions, exhibited shared trust in central institutions, and rallied behind significant compromises. Available data at the time also testified a strong popular adherence to the welfare state based upon public services.

In light of significant changes that have taken place during the latest decade, i.e. the financial crisis, increased globalization, the EU crisis, climate changes, growing migration, etc. we ask whether elite unity still is prevalent and whether a correspondence between elite and mass attitudes still is present.

Research Questions

We focus upon three sets of questions:

(1) Elite integration; studying to what extent the various sector elites are forming a more or less unified group.

(2) Social distance between elites and population, in attitudes and reciprocal perceptions.

(3) Elite attitudes toeards gender equality and diversity.

  • Conducted survey with 1351 Norwegian Top Leaders in 2015
  • Collected and updated data on Norwegian parliamentarians, from the years 2001-2013, for the European MP database EASE CUBE
Further information:

Institutional Change in Democratic Society

Schedule: 2012-2015
Employer: NFR

A joint project by Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo, Institute for Social Research, and Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research.

How are modern societies constituted? Dominant in sociological theory are either abstract “top down” perspectives, or arbitrary labels such as “risk society” or “post-modern society”. The present project chooses instead a bottom up approach in order to describe how large social formations are linked together. Thereby the focus on institutions becomes crucial. In order to avoid excessive generality, three limitations are made: (i) Mechanisms and patterns of institutional change are highlighted, (ii) a limited set of institutions are studied, (iii) democracy is regarded as constitutive in all parts of modern society. Empirically, the emphasis is put on societies of the Scandinavian type, but with clear comparative ambitions. Being societies where the state is simultaneously strong and liberal makes these societies a special case in relationship to basic assumptions in the international literature.

The project falls in three parts: Part A discusses normative theory of democracy, and theory of institutional change. Part B engages with changes in the public sphere. Part C concerns institutional change in working life and the welfare state, and what characterizes Scandinavia, in comparison with Continental Europe and the Anglo-American world.