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Prof. Dr. Stephan Leibfried
Prof. Dr. Stephan Leibfried
Prof. Dr.
Professor of Political Science (Wisdom-Professorship)
Social Sciences & Humanities

Universität Bremen Zentrum für Sozialpolitik Unicom-Gebäude Raum: 4360 Mary-Somerville-Straße 5 28359 Bremen Germany

+49 421 218 56633
s.leibfried [at]
Universität Bremen
Research Interests: 
Leibfried’s research areas embrace
  • comparative studies of welfare state development – especially poverty – in Germany, the US and the UK
  • the effects of European integration on national welfare states, and the
  • lasting effects of a reintegrating world („OECD“) markets with welfare state development after World War II („interdependence“), and, finally,
  • comparative studies of post-1970s nation-state development.
Leibfried directs at Bremen University the Bremen Collaborative Research Center on Transformations of the State (Sonderforschungsbereich TranState (2003-2014; see and co-directs a research center, the Centre for Social Policy Research (CeS;, founded in 1988 through a seed grant of the Volkswagen Foundation – CeS is presently co-directed by Frank Nullmeier and Herbert Obinger (political scientists), Heinz Rothgang and Stefan Traub (economists), and Karin Gottschall (sociologist).
University Education: 
Aug. 1961University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, College of Liberal Arts
April 1963Majors: mathematics, physics and sociology/political science
1965-1969Free University of Berlin; major: law (specialization: public law and constitutional politics); minor: political science
Oct. 1974Second law degree, Justizprüfungsamt Berlin
 <th width="150“ class=" rteleft"="">Nov. 1972Diss. rer. pol. (Ph.D.), University of Bremen, “Conditions, Limits and Ideological Import of Planning Mechanisms in the Welfare State”
Fellowships and Awards: 
2009Ludwig-Preller-Prize for welfare state research
2007First Prize, Fritz Thyssen Foundation, for best social science essay in 2005 for: Francis G. Castles, Herbert Obinger, and Stephan Leibfried, "Bremst der Föderalismus den Leviathan? Bundesstaat und Sozialstaat im internationalen Vergleich, 1880-2005", Politische Vierteljahresschrift 2005, 46:2, pp. 215-237
1993/94Sabbatical Years (Akademiejahr), Volkswagen-Foundation to work on the social dimension of European integration
 <th width="150“ class=" rteleft"="">1985-1986Research fellow and guest professor, International Management Institute, Science Center Berlin (WZB), Federal Republic of Germany
Research and Teaching Positions: 
since Oct. 1974Professor for “Public Policy and Social Policy” at the University of Bremen, major areas of work: health policy; poverty politics; history of social policy; comparative studies in welfare state and state development
Funded Projects: 
1972-1983Project on the state's fiscal infrastructure (“Staatshaushaltssystem”) together with Klaus Groth (research assistant) and Wolf-Dieter Narr, both Berlin, financed by the Volkswagen Foundation
1981-1986Project on “social policy and subsistence minima in Germany” together with Eckhard Hansen and Michael Heisig (research assistants). This project was financed by the German National Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) via a National Research Program.
1995-1998(together with Paul Pierson, Harvard) Project on “Business and the Welfare State” in the then Transcoop Program of the German American Academic Council
2000-2002/3Project on “Territorial Employment Pacts in the EU” with Petra Kodré, Martin Roggenkamp, and Elke Scheffelt (Hans-Böckler Foundation).
2002-2006(together with Jens Alber) DFG-Project on “Low-Qualified Individuals in Germany and England: A Contrast of the Institutional Interfaces of the Educational and Employment Systems”; with Achim Schmid (research assistant).
 <th width="150“ class=" rteleft"="">2003-2014(with Herbert Obinger), DFG-Project on “Social Politics in Small Open Economies”; financed by the DFG - Sfb “Staatlichkeit im Wandel” (project C1).

(a selection of books only)

Obinger, Herbert; Starke, Peter; Moser, Julia; Bogedan, Claudia; Obinger-Gindulis, Edith; Leibfried, Stephan (2010) Transformations of the Welfare State. Small Countries, Big Lessons, Oxford: Oxford University Press


Rieger, Elmar; Leibfried, Stephan (2004) Kultur versus Globalisierung. Sozialpolitische Theologie in Konfuzianismus und Christentum, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp


Rieger, Elmar; Leibfried, Stephan (2003) Limits to Globalization. Welfare States and the World Economy, Cambridge, UK: Polity


Rieger, Elmar; Leibfried, Stephan (2001) Grundlagen der Globalisierung. Perspektiven des Wohlfahrtsstaates, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp


Leibfried, Stephan; Leisering, Lutz (1999) Time and Poverty in Western Welfare States. United Germany in Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Leibfried, Stephan; Leisering, Lutz; Buhr, Petra; Ludwig, Monika; Olk, Thomas; Voges, Wolfgang (1995) Zeit der Armut. Lebensläufe im Sozialstaat, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp


Edited Volumes Leibfried, Stephan; Nullmeier, Frank; Huber, Evelyne; Lange, Matthew; Levy, Jonah; Stephens, John (2014) The Oxford Handbook of Transformations of the State, Oxford: Oxford University Press (in preparation)


Castles, Francis G.; Leibfried, Stephan; Lewis, Jane; Obinger, Herbert; Pierson, Christopher (2010) The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press


Leibfried, Stephan (2010) Die Exzellenzinitiative. Zwischenbilanz und Perspektiven, Frankfurt a.M.: Campus Verlag


Hurrelmann, Achim; Leibfried, Stephan; Martens, Kerstin; Mayer, Peter (2008) Zerfasert der Nationalstaat? Die Internationalisierung politischer Verantwortung, Frankfurt am Main: Campus


Leibfried, Stephan; Mau, Steffen (2007) Welfare States: Construction, Deconstruction, Reconstruction, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 3 vols.


Hurrelmann, Achim; Leibfried, Stephan; Martens, Kerstin; Mayer, Peter (2007) Transforming the Golden-Age Nation State, Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan


Leibfried, Stephan; Zürn, Michael (2006) Transformationen des Staates?, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp


Obinger, Herbert; Leibfried, Stephan; Castles, Francis G. (2005) Federalism and the Welfare State. New World and European Experiences, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press


Leibfried, Stephan; Zürn, Michael (2005) Transformations of the State?, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press


Leibfried, Stephan (2001) Welfare State Futures, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press


Leibfried, Stephan; Voges, Wolfgang (1992) Armut im modernen Wohlfahrtsstaat, Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag (= Sonderheft 32. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie)


For further information on articles and contributions to edited volumes see:

Other Professional Activities: 
2011-2012Contributing to the First (BIGSSS) and Third Funding Line Excellence Applications of the University of Bremen in the phase of the Excellence Initiative lasting from 2012 to 2017
2006ff.Chair, Social Science Section, BBAW
2003-2014Co-Initiator of the German National Science Foundation (= Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) Collaborative Research Center (Sfb 597) “Transformations of the State” [TranState] in Political Science, Law, Sociology, and Economics in cooperation with Jacobs University Bremen (2 projects at the start); since 2004 Director of TranState.
2000-2007Co-Initiator of the transatlantic “staatswissenschaftliche” Graduate School of Social Sciences (GSSS) at the University of Bremen (approved June 2001 by the Volkswagen Foundation), in coopereation with Jacobs University Bremen.
May 1987 – July 1991Chair, Social Policy Section, German Association for Sociology (DGS; Vize Chair 1984-1987)
1981-1988Co-Founder and Research Director of the “Center for Social Policy and Social Movements” at the University of Bremen (“Forschungsschwerpunkt Reproduktionsrisiken, soziale Bewegungen und Sozialpolitik”)
1980s ff.Member of several Commissions dealing with the future of the welfare state (Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, German Conference of Bishops, European Conference of Bishops, etc.)
 <th width="150“ class=" rteleft"="">1970s ff.Co-editor of diverse Working Paper and book series (Palgrave Macmillan: 20 plus volumes, Campus: 15 plus volumes), and of several German and international journals (European Review, Journal of European Social Policy, Kritische Justiz, etc)