Peggy Levitt sociologist, author and professor

Transformation of social welfare

Transnational Social Protection (TSP):
Transforming Social Welfare in a World on the Move

The idea that social rights are something we are eligible for based on where we live or where we are citizens is out-of-date. People protect themselves and their families transnationally—using formal and informal resources in the countries that they come from and where they settle. We need to understand this transformation in social welfare as we know it, identify who the new winners and losers are, and train a next generation of policymakers, service providers, and researchers to respond to this changing social contract between citizen and state. We need to learn more about how migrants piece together resource environments by combining what they can access from the state, the market, NGOS, and their social networks in their sending and receiving countries. We also need to look at what sub-national, regional, and transnational actors do when nation-states fail to provide. The European Union, which has developed its own version of transnational social protection for its members and for non-members who live within its borders, is an important starting point. But we also need to look beyond Europe to understand other regional responses to providing social protection to people on the move.  

My colleagues Erica Dobbs, Ruxandra Paul, and Ken Sun have taken up this charge by examining transnational protection across the life cycle. We explore how childcare, education, health, labor rights, and retirement are being provided across borders and how this varies across regions. A second project is to organize an Executive Training Program on TSP for the School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute with colleagues at the Migration Policy Centre.