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SFI Research Programme

The purpose of the programme is to ensure that SFI research can provide answers to key challenges facing society. The research programme is organised into six themes:

  • Organisation of welfare services
  • Employment and the supply and demand of labour
  • Social marginalisation and vulnerability
  • Education
  • Living conditions and social mobility of children, young people and families
  • Ethnic minorities, integration and participation in society

Organisation of welfare services

In a modern welfare state, development of the appropriate services for citizens in need, the quality and content of individual services, and a focus on particularly vulnerable citizens are all important aspects. There is a growing demand for welfare services in many areas: from general services, such as schools, child care and elderly care to specialist programmes for vulnerable children, young people and adults.

Meeting this demand requires knowledge about the organisation, implementation and management of welfare services, particularly in relation to supervision and control of resource use. There is a need for innovation to enable adoption of new technologies, to prioritise certain needy groups and to provide a sound evidence basis for social interventions.

Therefore, SFI conducts research into:

  • Organisation of the welfare state and access to welfare services.
  • Resources, constraints and the implementation and quality of welfare services.
  • Implementation, supervision/control and management of welfare services.
  • The match between the needs of citizens and the nature of social interventions.
  • Direct and indirect impacts of social interventions.
  • The socio-economic value of welfare services

Employment and the supply and demand of labour

A high level of employment is the economic foundation for a welfare state with a comprehensive social safety net and universal welfare services. At the same time, a high level of labour-market participation is a precondition for ensuring a good standard of living, and it is the foundation for a high degree of social cohesion.

One requirement for a high level of employment is a supply of labour with the competences that employers need. For citizens with close attachment to the labour market, work motivation is a crucial precondition for a continued high level of supply
of labour and employment. However, there are special challenges in ensuring a high degree of employment for citizens with a weaker attachment to the labour market.

Knowledge about effective employment-policy measures can support labour supply and reduce exclusion from the labour market. In a constantly changing society, it is important to understand the dynamics of movements into and out of the labour market, between jobs and across transfer programmes.

Therefore, SFI conducts research into:

  • Labour supply, skills, motivation and incentives.
  • Employer demand for skills and employer social responsibility.
  • Mobility, polarisation and exclusion mechanisms.
  • The institutional and cyclical determinants of employment.
  • Employment policy implementation and impact.The Effect Evaluation Research Programme

Social marginalisation and vulnerability

Some groups of citizens are vulnerable in that they find it particularly difficult to participate in society and this is a challenge for social cohesion.

In order to promote self-sufficiency and participation in society for the most vulnerable, we must understand the determinants of the distribution of financial, social and cultural resources. We must also understand the mechanisms of economic and social mobility. Finally, we need knowledge about the impact of the social safety net on inequality and possibilities for participation in society.

Therefore, SFI conducts research into:

  • Living conditions and participation in society for vulnerable groups.
  • How vulnerable groups experience their own needs and possibilities.
  • The nature of vulnerability and processes that lead to vulnerability.
  • The importance of social interventions for particularly vulnerable groups.
  • The process of formulation of policy for vulnerable groups.


Formal education has a pivotal role to play in how children and young people will function in society as adults. At the same time, the level of education and the balance of skills of the population is vital for Denmark's competitiveness in a globalised world.

Despite there in principle being equal access to education in Denmark, there is a challenge ensuring equal opportunities for children and young people to utilise their abilities, regardless of their background.

If we are to deal with these challenges, we need more knowledge about how child care facilities as well as basic school can ensure that all children are provided with
good opportunities to develop and learn. We also need knowledge about how upper secondary education and further and higher education can provide young people with the competences and skills to enable them to become self-sufficient and to participate fully in society.

Therefore, SFI conducts research into:

  • Development and learning in child care facilities.
  • Family background, learning and well-being at school and child care.
  • Organisation of schools and learning impact.
  • Transitions in the education system, especially for the most disadvantaged.
  • The private and social benefits of education.

Living conditions and social mobility of children, young people and families

Childhoods with stable conditions, appropriate challenges and development opportunities are the foundations of our future society. Everyday life in the family is therefore fundamental for the well-being and development of children and young people.

However, differences in families' financial, social and cultural resources are crucial for how their children can exploit this potential. The organisation and quality of institutions, such as child care facilities and schools, are also important for a good childhood especially for the most vulnerable children. High-quality social work and early investment in effective interventions are vital for strengthening the resources of children and families as well as for facilitating social mobility.

We need more knowledge about how to broaden equal opportunities. This requires understanding of the dynamics of vulnerability and the types of interventions that work for different groups of socially disadvantaged and vulnerable children, young people and families.

Therefore, SFI conducts research into:

  • Families' social, financial and cultural resources and the well-being, development and social mobility of children and young people.
  • Impacts of childhood and family interventions on well-being and development.
  • Challenges in transitions from youth to adulthood.
  • The well-being and future of children and young people placed in care.

Ethnic minorities, integration and participation in society

Globalisation and immigration to Denmark of people from all over the world brings a changing and more heterogeneous population that raises specific social and practical challenges for integration policy.

Most citizens from ethnic minorities participate in society on equal terms with ethnic Danes. However, some groups do not attain an adequate level of education and a stable labour market attachment, and there is an over-representation of ethnic minority citizens among the socially vulnerable. There is a need for knowledge about the interplay between cultural background and social marginalisation and about effective integration measures for newcomers.

Therefore, SFI conducts research into:

  • Ways to strengthen inclusion of ethnic minorities through education, the labour market and participation in civil society.
  • Social and cultural determinants of ethnic minorities' participation in society and social mobility.
  • Integration of newcomers - refugees, migrant workers and family migrants.
  • Impacts of integration policies.

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