Last week seven members of the IPR team headed off to Seoul, South Korea, to take part in a two-day joint conference with the Institute of Welfare State Research (IWSR) at Yonsei University. The conference: ‘New Directions in Welfare State Reform: innovation, social investment and basic income’ took place from the 8th to 9th November and saw presentations from colleagues from the UK, Germany, Finland and South Korea.

Topics covered in the conference ranged from: social investment politics and policies, universal basic income, in-work and tax benefits, ageing and welfare preferences, the political economy of new welfare states, and future scenarios for welfare states. The international keynote and panel sessions offered insightful perspectives and lively discussions, with a strong comparative dimension.

The IPR delegation consisted of Professor Nick Pearce, IPR Director; Professor Jane Millar, Professor of Social Policy; Dr Luke Martinelli, IPR Research Associate; Amy Thompson, Head of Policy Programmes and Communications; and three IPR Doctoral Students Joan Abbas, Joe Chrisp and David Young. They were joined by Dr Julian Garritzman of Konstanz University and Reijo Miettinen of University of Helsinki. From the Yonsei side, there were presentations from Young Jun Choi, Jae-jin Yang, Iljin Hong and Juhyeon Bae. Presentations were also given from Korea University, Seoul Institute, Korean Institute for Public Finance, Dongguk University, Sogang University and Lab2050.

The conference was the first event in a new collaboration between IPR and the IWSR at Yonsei University. Further research collaboration is planned for 2019. IPR also hosts civil servants on year-long placements from the Ministry of Employment and Labour in Korea, and discussions were held during the conference about extending these in the future.