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Building sustainable societies with intergenerationally just policies? A multidimensional analysis for Denmark and 31 OECD countries, 1995-2015

Carlsberg Foundation Monograph Fellowships

What

My project focuses on how we can build more sustainable societies with more intergenerationally just policies. The aim is theoretically informed but empirical and rigorously policy-oriented: to measure and compare intergenerational justice in policy practice across 32 countries: Denmark, its Nordic neighbors, the EU's big three economies (Germany, France and Italy), and the OECD world. Contextually, the project will touch on important contemporary questions of policy sustainability, societal resilience and good governance, related to SDGs 1, 4, 10, 13, and 16.

Why

The UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals have increased the global salience of sustainability in public policy. Rising debt levels and inequalities, population aging and the climate crisis have strengthened perceptions that the long-term wellbeing of especially younger and future generations is under threat. However, efforts to measure the intergenerational justice component of sustainability empirically have lagged behind both political and academic debates. How can we improve policies when we only have very incomplete command of the state of affairs in policy practice? This project aims to provide comparative insights into this key question of governance.

How

I will delve deep into the measurement of intergenerational justice in the public policy models of many advanced democracies, with multidimensional measures and recent data over a twenty-year period. The unit of analysis will be countries. The multi-indicator empirical analysis will be complemented with in-depth case studies on Denmark, its three fellow Nordic countries, and the EU s three biggest economies, Germany, France, and Italy. The main observational period will be 1995 to 2015, with individual time series data extending beyond this period.

SSR

This project will address one of the Grand Challenges of our time: how to build more intergeneratinally just societies. It will provide key insights into why some, otherwise comparable, countries can build more intergenerationally just policy models than other countries. It will indicate how political processes and governance cultures contribute to the sustainability of aging societies over the long term. Crucially also, it will give insights for policy reform. For instance, what, if anything, can other rich and/or aging societies learn from the Nordic model?