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LSEE Seminar

The Western Balkans: Inequalities and Social Policies


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Time 6:00 - 7:30pm

Cañada Blanch Room, (COW 1.11),  1st floor, Cowdray House, LSE, London WC2A 2AE 


Dr Will Bartlett, LSEE Senior Visiting Fellow
Dr Eda Tahiraj
, LSEE Senior Visiting Fellow

Chair Prof Eric Gordy, Senior Lecturer, SSEES, UCL

Dr Will Bartlett looked at the relationship between income inequality and welfare state trajectories in four countries of former Yugoslavia, following a prolonged and somewhat enfeebled socio-economic recovery in the Western Balkans. These countries are Slovenia (with about the lowest income inequalities in Europe, as measured by the Gini coefficient), Croatia (with an average level of inequality), and Macedonia and Serbia (with the highest inequality in Europe). The discussion focused on the factors that generate inequalities in these four countries, each having emerged from the same institutional base within a single country, and in particular how country-specific welfare reforms have influenced the diverging levels of income inequality that can be observed among them. The welfare reforms are in the policy areas of education systems, labour markets, and tax and benefit policies. Writers in the variety of capitalism school have suggested that Slovenia represents an “egalitarian” model of capitalism (Feldmann, 2016). If so, how did this come about, and do the varieties of capitalism in the other three countries represent a more rapacious “political capitalism”, within which privileged elites have captured most of the proceeds of economic growth? 

Dr Eda Tahiraj presented on regional welfare efforts and their role in transition and consolidation by way of examining policies, impact, actors and discourses. She looked at a range of social policy paradigms and innovations, including current and proposed applications of universal basic income, the potential of these ideas to address socio-economic regression and discussing deconsolidation against issues of affordability for governments that ‘do not have the luxury to entertain such an idea.’


Speakers' biographies


Dr Will Bartlett is LSEE Senior Visiting Fellow, previously Senior
Research Fellow in the Political Economy of South East Europe. He holds a BA in Economics from the University of Cambridge, a MA in Development Economics from the School for Oriental and African Studies, and a PhD from the University of Liverpool. He was President of the European Association for Comparative Economics from 2006-08.


Eda-Tahiraj-croppedDr Enkeleida Tahiraj has advised international organizations including the European Commission, EUROFOUND, the UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women and the World Bank as well as national governments on social protection and social inclusion strategy design; rights based policies; EU Mutual Information System on Social Protection (MISSOC). She has reviewed country guidance for IAGCI. Special Adviser to IDS on Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy. Dr Tahiraj is a World Visiting Scholar at University of California San Diego, and at Penn State University, USA, as well as Chevening Scholar at Sussex University. She has presented at numerous academic conferences at Oxford, Harvard, UCL, LSE, Urbino-Italy, Petersburg State University-Russia, and policy impact events at FCO, ETF and Wilton Park. Dr Tahiraj's fields of research are Poverty and Development, Children, Gender & Family Policies, EU Accession and Policy Transfer, Inclusion and Democratic Consolidation, Human Rights, Asylum and Migration, Social Security, Labour Markets and Employment, CSOs. Her current focus is the governance mechanisms for rights based polices and inclusion and the role of International Organisations in the social discourse.



Prof Eric Gordy is a political and cultural sociologist concentrating on Southeast Europe, especially the states of the former Yugoslavia. He is currently coordinator and principal investigator for the research project INFORM: Closing the Gap Between Formal and Informal Institutions in the Balkans, which has been funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research programme. Involving a network of 40 researchers in 9 countries, the project probes the limitations of legal and structural reform, investigating ways in which people have blocked, circumvented and otherwise tried to cope with transformations directed from above in both the Communist and neoliberal periods. He has taught and held visiting positions at a variety of institutions, including University of California Berkeley, Clark University, University of Bologna, Institute of Advanced Study Budapest, University of Belgrade and University of Niš.

This event is free and open to all, however, seats are allocated on a first come, first serve basis.




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Dr Will Bartlett


Dr Eda Tahiraj




Follow the discussion on Twitter: #LSEWB