Director of the Visiting Fellows Programme
Anna Korhonen
Head of International Affairs
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Eeva Korteniemi
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Location & Connections


Visiting Fellows 2016-2017

Linda J. Cook, Brown University, USA
“Social Policy in the Russian Federation: Directions, Policy Processes, Outcomes, Prospects”
(June 2017)

Biography: Linda J. Cook received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1985. She is Professor of Political Science Department and Associate of the Davis Center at Harvard University.  Cook authored The Soviet Social Contract and Why it Failed: Welfare Policy and Workers’ Politics from Brezhnev to Yeltsin (Harvard University Press, 1993), Postcommunist Welfare States: Reform Politics in Russia and Eastern Europe (Cornell, 2007; 2013) and numerous other publications.  She is currently working on a research project, “Social Policy in the Russian Federation:  Directions, Policy Processes, Outcomes, Prospects,” funded by the United Nations Research Institute on Social Development, (UNRISD).  The project focuses on social policy-making, implementation and outcomes, as well as recent efforts to involve social sector NGOs in delivery of state-funded social services. 

Short description of ongoing research:
The project that Professor Cook will be working on during her fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute, is funded by the UNRISD (United Nations Research Institute on Social Development) and has two main components. The first focuses on the directions of Russia’s social policy from 2005 through 2015, particularly the politics and processes of social policy-making,  implementation and outcomes. The main argument is that policy-making processes and economic policy choices have limited the effectiveness of Russia’s social policy expenditures and reform efforts, specifically that a narrowly-dominated, bureaucratic social policy process, largely excluding society, and often giving limited voice to experts, produces failed reforms and poor returns on welfare effort (i.e., poor outcomes relative to levels of expenditure in international comparisons).

The project involves a systematic study of overall social policy directions, achievements in improving welfare, and reform failures.  Three sub-sector case studies will cover policies on support for mothers and children including health care and pro-natalist policies; support for pensioners; and services for people with disabilities. These three welfare sub-sectors are selected because they include the major areas of welfare expenditure (i.e., health care and pensions); they affect vulnerable groups, especially women engaged in care work; they have mixes of state, private and civil society providers, and all three feature active societal organizations.  In addition to a Federation-wide overview, researchers based in Russia are conducting field work at three sites: Moscow, Russia’s major urban center, Samara, an industrial region, and the Karelian Republic, a declining rural region, in order to capture the variation in social service provision across Russia’s political economy.

The second focus of the project is implementation of a major new Federal Law, “On the basis of social services for citizens in the Russian Federation,” which came into force in 2015. The law provides for NGOs and other civil society organizations to take part in delivering social services guaranteed by the state, with financing from the state budget.  One purpose of the research project is to assess the effects of this initiative as it is implemented, asking whether it can link state and society in ways that improve the outcomes of welfare effort. This initiative, which builds on several earlier, more limited measures to provide state financing for social sector NGO, enhances the role of one sub-sector of civil society, those working in the social sector, even as political and civil rights-oriented civil society organizations are subject to tighter restrictions.

Email: Linda_Cook[AT]

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Meri Kulmala, Markku Kivinen