Philipp Rehm

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2018/2019
discipline Political Science
Associate Professor of Political Science, Ohio State University

Research project

Lifting the Veil of Ignorance: Information and the Welfare State


One of the most important purposes of the welfare state is to provide insurance and it is well known that information critically shapes the provision thereof. Yet, rather than playing the central role it warrants, information barely makes an appearance in the contemporary literature of welfare states in advanced industrialized countries. This is all the more surprising as we are living in an age of transformative changes in private insurance markets, spurred by the information revolution. These developments will reshape the politics of the welfare state, too.


The life insurance market offers a window into the future of social insurance. For example, John Hancock Life Insurance, a major player in the American market, introduced a policy that calculates annual premiums partially based on data collected by an “activity tracker” that policy-holders receive for free when they sign up. These types of devices (which include smartphones equipped with the right app) can track and instantly share things like: steps and stairs taken, active minutes, calories burned, heart rate, sleep quality, blood pressure, among others. The company markets this life insurance policy as “an innovative solution that rewards you for living a healthy life. In fact, the healthier you are, the more you can save.” The company’s goal is to improve risk discrimination. The progress spurred by the genome project will be particularly helpful to this end and philosophers, lawyers and practitioners agree that the genomic approach to personalized medicine is revolutionary.


I would like to spend my time on an EURIAS Fellowship completing a book-length project on “Information and the Welfare State.” My project aims at offering a fresh theoretical and novel empirical perspective on the welfare state, putting the role of information front and center, both at the macro- and micro-level. As in my past research, I will draw from a wide range of disciplines and will rely on a variety of methodological approaches to explore this truly important topic.




Philipp Rehm is Associate Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Duke University.

His work is located at the intersection of political economy and political behavior. In particular, he is interested in the causes and consequences of income dynamics (such as income loss, income volatility, and risk exposure). At the micro-level, his research explores how income dynamics shape individual preferences for redistribution, social policies, and parties. At the macro-level, his work analyzes the impact of labor market and income dynamics on polarization, electoral majorities, and coalitions underpinning social policy.

Selected publications


Risk Inequality and Welfare States. Social Policy Preferences, Development, and Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2016.


'Occupations as a Site of Political Preference Formation', with H.Kitschelt, Comparative Political Studies, vol. 47, no. 2, 2014, pp. 1670-1706.


'The Insecure American: Economic Experiences, Financial Worries, and Policy Attitudes', with J. S. Hacker & M. Schlesinger, Perspectives on Politics, vol. 11, no. 1, 2013, pp. 23-49.


'Insecure Alliances: Risk, Inequality, and Support for the Welfare State', with J. S. Hacker & M. Schlesinger, American Political Science Review, vol. 106, no. 2, 2012, pp. 386–406.


'Risks and Redistribution. An Individual-Level Analysis', Comparative Political Studies, vol. 42, no. 7, 2009, pp. 855-881.



junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study (HWK)
discipline Social Anthropology
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study (HWK)
discipline Urban Studies
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study (HWK)
discipline Cultural Studies
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study (HWK)
discipline Education