PhD scholarship in The Origins of the Welfare State and Economic Development, Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen (UCPH)

Applications are invited for PhD scholarship at the Department of Economics. Enrolment will be at the Faculty of Social Sciences under Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences.

The position starting date is 1 June 2023 or as early as possible thereafter.

The project
The Nordic countries, including Denmark, are known for their strong public support for institutions such as the redistributive welfare state and high levels of economic development. However, the reasons for this phenomenon are debated. The modernization hypothesis posits that these characteristics developed concurrently with economic growth, while other scholars argue that the institutions themselves played a key role in driving economic development and, in turn, garnering widespread public support

This research project aims to examine the impact of policies related to the initial implementation of the welfare state and changes in democratic institutions on regional income and health inequalities during the 20th century. To do this, the study employs a historical framework using municipality data, which addresses the issue of unobserved heterogeneity present in many cross-national studies. Utilizing over 50 years of data, the project seeks to understand the long-term effects of various significant policy reforms. The study utilizes Danish historical data, which is of exceptional quality and offers a high level of detail compared to data from other countries. For instance, Danish historical tax records provide valuable insight into the past, with tabulated accounts of taxable income levels in each municipality from 1904 to 1970, including variables such as total income earned and the number of taxpayers in different income thresholds. This data allows for the measurement of income inequality across municipalities as well as within municipalities.

The specific research questions are:

1. How do investments in welfare and redistribution of public expenditures influence regional income and health inequalities?

2. How do unemployment-insurance policies impact labor markets and how effective are they compared to investments in welfare?

3. How does the political redistribution of power (and social-democratic rule) influence welfare spending, taxation, and the local economy?

Your role
The successful candidate will have the opportunity to collaborate with Casper Worm Hansen (UCPH) and Peter Sandholt Jensen (Linnaeus University) in addressing the research questions outlined above through the execution of two or three specific sub-projects. These projects will encompass: 1) the collection and digitization of historical data, 2) the analysis of the collected data using cutting-edge causal empirical methods, and 3) assistance in the dissemination of findings through written publications. In addition, the candidate will have dedicated time to develop and pursue their own ideas within the broader scope of the project. The funding provided by the project also allows for many opportunities to visit other international research institutions.

The PhD programme
The PhD programme provides PhD students with strong research training which opens up a window of opportunity to a variety of careers within the private and public sectors. The programme includes the drafting of a PhD thesis, active participation in research networks, PhD courses, teaching, and other forms of knowledge dissemination. The PhD programme will be undertaken as a three year full-time study within the framework of the 5+3 study programme, or a four year full-time study within the framework of the 4+4 study programme.

Duties and Responsibilities
Further information about the PhD study programme is available on the website of Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences:

Under "Legal basis" on the website you will find information about the rules and guidelines for the PhD programme and the Danish Ministerial Order on the PhD programme at the Universities. 

Information about the PhD study programme is also available on the PhD website of the Department of Economics:

Applicants should familiarise themselves with the research strategy and the ongoing research at the Department before submitting their application. Further information can be found:


  • The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding society, and invites all qualified applicants, regardless of personal background, to apply for the positions.  
  • In order to be awarded a PhD scholarship the applicant has to enroll as a PhD student at the Faculty of Social Sciences, cf. the rules of the Danish Ministerial order No 1039 of 27 August 2013.  
  • Please note that normally there is strong competition for these scholarships, and only a few can be awarded each term.  

Scholarship in the 5+3 PhD study programme
To enroll in the 5+3 PhD study programme the applicant must have completed a two year MSc degree programme in Economics, or have earned 120 ECTS credits at an equivalent academic level. Applicants can apply before they fulfill this, but the employment cannot start beforehand. Applicants should check the study programmes for more detailed descriptions of the entry requirements. PhD students are paid a salary in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC). The PhD student has a work obligation of up to 840 hours over the three year period without additional pay. The work obligation can include for instance teaching.    

Scholarship in the 4+4 PhD study programme 
To enroll in the 4+4 PhD programme the applicant must have 60 ECTS of an MSc degree programme in Economics. Applicants can apply before they fulfill this, but the employment cannot start beforehand. Students who have completed a BSc plus 60 ECTS of an MSc degree programme enrol as PhD students simultaneously with their enrolment in the MSc degree programme. Applicants should check the PhD curriculum for more detailed descriptions of the entry requirements. Until an MSc degree is obtained, the grant is paid partly in the form of up to 48 state education grant portions (in Danish: SU-klip). More specifically the PhD student will be paid two grant portions per month plus salary for work (teaching, presentations etc.) which totals a workload of at least 280 hours. Payment and conditions of employment are carried out in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC). Upon completion of the MSc degree the student is transferred to the salary-earning part of the PhD studies.

How to apply
Submit a complete application at our online portal. Click on the “Apply now” icon at the bottom of the page to apply. The documents must be in Adobe PDF or Word.

  • Project abstract: Please fill in the project abstract in the application form. Must not exceed 1.200 characters.
  • Cover Letter: Detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project.
  • Project description:  Describe a research project you would like to work in with-in the broader project. No more than 12.000 keystrokes (not including bibliography).
  • CV  
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc) 
  • Time schedule
  • Budget (if relevant)
  • Other information for consideration: E.g. list of publications, documentation of English language qualifications (if any).

Please note that it is only possible to upload one document per attachment category. If more than one document has to be uploaded in the same category, please make sure that they are scanned and collected into one file.  

Application process
On the website of Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences you will find information about the application process, and enclosures to include with your electronic application:

The recruitment process
Further information on the recruitment process at University of Copenhagen can be found here:

The following criteria are used when shortlisting candidates for assessment:

1. Research qualifications as reflected in the project proposal. 

2. Quality and feasibility of the project.  

3. Qualifications and knowledge in relevant Anthropology disciplines. 

4. Performance (grades obtained) in graduate and post-graduate studies. 

5. Department of Economics can offer adequate supervision for the research topic in question. 

Selected applicants are notified of the composition of the assessment committee, and each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself. You can read about the recruitment process here.

An Equal Opportunity Workplace
The University of Copenhagen is committed in its pursuit of academic excellence to equality of opportunity and to creating an inclusive working environment and therefore encourages all qualified candidates to apply, regardless of personal background, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, ethnicity etc. For more on the diverse working place environment at the University and the University’s participation in the HRS4R HR Excellence in Researrch, see

International applicant?
The University of Copenhagen offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including support before and during your relocation and career counselling to expat partners. Please find more information about these services as well as information on entering and working in Denmark here:

Contact information
Information about the recruitment process is available from Dorthea Andersen, HR, e-mail, please refer to ID number 211-1336/23-2H #1.

Additional information about the position can be obtained from Associate Professor Casper Worm Hansen, e-mail

The closing date for applications is 1 March 2023 at 23:59 (CET).

Applications received after the deadline will not be taken into account.


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 01-03-2023
Employment start: 01-06-2023
Department/Location: Økonomisk Institut
Content not available due to cookie preferences

You cannot see the content of this field because of your cookie preferences.

Click here to change your cookie settings.

Category: Marketing

Search all vacancies