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Aarhus is a centre for an international conference on the future of the welfare state

How can the welfare state survive? This is the topic to be considered by the MatchPoints Seminar, which will be welcomed by Aarhus University and Aarhus Municipality from 24 to 26 May 2018. Conference delegates will be able to meet people like James Heckman, American winner of the Nobel Prize, a broad selection of experts, politicians, commentators and practitioners working in the field of welfare – and two robots, Norma and Silbot. The conference is open to the public, and registration begins on x January 2018.

2018.01.23 | Ida Hammerich Nielson

Can robots save welfare? Listen to the debate and meet the robot Norma at MatchPoints Seminar 2018.

Society can reap strong economic benefits by investing in early childhood development programmes for disadvantaged children. This insight is central to the work of James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning expert in the economics of human development, one of the keynote speakers at MatchPoints Seminar 2018.

The welfare state is one of the greatest achievements of the western world. If you fall ill, free hospital treatment awaits you. If you lose your job, the government is ready to give you benefits. But the welfare state is facing some major challenges. The number of elderly people will outstrip the number of younger people, individualisation will place pressure on the community, immigration and foreign labour present a challenge to the economy – and robots are ready to help the sick and the elderly.

So how can we maintain the welfare state in future – if, indeed, it is to be maintained in its present form? The MatchPoints Seminar for 2018 will be meeting experts, employees of the welfare state, people with an interest in welfare and politicians in order to exchange ideas and discuss the challenges we face in future.

"Welfare and the future of the welfare state is something that affects us all, both now and in the future, and these have been key research themes at Aarhus University for a long time now. That is why we are pleased to join forces with Aarhus Municipality in inviting Danish, Nordic and international researchers to the MatchPoints Seminar for 2018, which is therefore focusing on one of the greatest challenges we face at present. We hope a lot of people will find it interesting to get involved in discussions on researchers' conclusions," says Professor Jørgen Elklit, who is in charge of MatchPoints 2018.

MatchPoints 2018 will be visited by people such as James Heckman, eminent economist and Nobel Prize winner from the US, who has demonstrated the link between child welfare and major long-term social benefits, and British professor of economics Guy Standing, a supporter of Basic Income.

Can volunteering save welfare?
Aarhus Municipality is co-organising MatchPoints 2018, and Mayor Jacob Bundsgaard can see the big picture when focusing on welfare. Aarhus is European Volunteering Capital in 2018, and an important issue in this respect is how the municipality and volunteers from civil society can work together with regard to welfare.

"We live in exciting times, where technological advances can pave the way for new opportunities in public welfare, and where volunteers are increasingly involved in welfare. It is important to adopt a proactive approach to this development and debate the direction in which we want to proceed as regards the advent of technology and digitisation. There are all kinds of ethical dilemmas in this respect, and we need to bring these to the fore. At the same time we have to celebrate the contributions made by volunteers and we are looking forward to sharing with everyone in 2018, a year for which Aarhus has been named European Volunteering Capital," says Jacob Bundsgaard, who will also be contributing to MatchPoints 2018.

For more information, please contact technical manager Jørgen Elklit: 87165583/ elklit@ps.au.dk   
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About MatchPoints Seminars
Aarhus University has been holding MatchPoints Seminars, academic conferences with an outward-facing profile, since 2007. The purpose of MatchPoints is to create communication between Aarhus University and the general public on issues of broad interest in the community. This is why these seminars are open to the public. One feature of MatchPoints Seminars is that the speakers are some of the most eminent national and international names in the field on which each seminar focuses.


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