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Our research topics

Labour relations | Global studies | Skills | Migration and integration | Welfare research

Fafo's research are centered around the following five research areas. These pages will guide you to more specific research topics and pages offering information about our researchers, publications and projects.

Labour relations

Labour migration

The Eastern enlargements of EU in 2004 kick-started a new phase in the Norwegian working life. This led to unparalleled labour and service mobility to Norway.

The Nordic model

The Nordic model has gained much attention, both politically and scientific, in recent years. In the 1980s and 1990s the model was considered as not being viable, the model is now viewed as a role model for other societies, and there is strong international interest in knowledge that explains the model's growth and success.

Industrial relations

Social dialogue is central to the Norwegian model. The social dialogue lay down the foundation for both representative and individual arrangements aimed at employee participation. Both social parties have rights and obligations, and the social dialogue is based on joint responsibility for a just and productive work life.

Collective agreements

Wages and working conditions may be regulated by statutory law and collective agreements and employment contracts. Collective agreements are agreements between a trade union and an employer organisation or an individual employer. In a Norwegian context, such agreements usually consist of two parts: A basic agreement that governs the relationship between organisations and predominant rules, and a national agreement regulating wages and working conditions for a certain industry or a sector.

Global studies

Decent Work

Job creation is one of the most pressing challenges confronting policymakers worldwide. Jobs complete with appropriate compensation, social security, labour rights, social dialogue, and opportunities for economic mobility are necessary parts of sustainable economic growth.

Responsible business

For more than a decade, Fafo's research into responsible business has focused on  business practice in its regulatory and social context, through scholarly and applied research and through an active engagement with business, government and civil society.

Peacebuilding and stabilisation

Fafo's research programme on peace and stabilization focuses on the dynamics and consequences of evolving doctrine and practice in peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and stabilization operations.

Global health

Fafo’s health-related research focuses on social dimensions of ill-health including inequity, vulnerability, coping strategies and adaptation. Our aim is to promote high-quality research and evaluations to improve health and achieve equity in health. We have a particular focus on marginalized populations which includes populations in conflict and fragile settings.


Fafo has been conducting activities in China since 1994 and developed close and constructive cooperation with Chinese institutions. Fafo’s research in China focuses on social, economic and political developments with particular attention to distribution, vulnerability, social sustainability and the impact of social transition for households. We also engage in policy analysis and dialogue with Chinese policymakers and researchers.

Middle East and North Africa

Fafo’s research in the Middle East mainly revolves around people’s living conditions and livelihood strategies and how these are impacted by conflicts and rights. Much of our work has dealt with the situation of refugees. Increasingly, labour market issues and social protection have become central to our research portfolio.

Emerging economies

The rise of Emerging Powers, such as China, Brazil, Russia, India and Turkey, is changing the very dynamics and structure of international relations. Through extensive field research and political dialogue projects, Fafo regards our particular knowledge of the national context to be essential for understanding developments, foreign policy priorities, why and how Emerging Powers choose to participate in the international community, their interests and the resulting power dynamics.

Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa

Extensive fieldwork is a core component of our research in the Sahel and in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our researchers combine qualitative and quantitative methods to produce high-quality research of direct policy relevance to both Norwegian and international stakeholders.

Global education and out-of-school children

Unesco’s Global Monitoring Report for 2014 shows that more than 50 million school-aged children still are out of school. Approximately one-third live in conflict areas, and 168 million children are involved in child labour.

Violence and Conflict

How do violence and conflict impact individuals, communities and institutions? Fafo has long experience in researching conflicts and social unrest around the globe. Our research focuses on how people and institutions are affected by, respond to and recover from violence and conflict.


Vocational education and training - VET

Education is an important political tool for achieving high participation in working life and society, and publicly funded education is a core element in the Nordic welfare and working life model. In Norway, the right to free upper secondary education has contributed to almost all young people going straight from compulsory education to upper secondary education. About half of the students start a vocational education.

Dropout from education

Dropout from upper secondary education, particularly in vocational education and training, and among boys with an immigrant background, is a continuous concern in the public debate. The media’s focus is directed towards political interventions, social inequalities and youth risking permanent labour market marginalisation. 

Lifelong learning

We study lifelong learning with an emphasis on vocational skills and work-based learning. We are interested in skill formation systems and institutional conditions for learning.

Migration and integration

The multi-cultural society

Immigration has existed in Norway for many centuries. According to Statistics Norway (Statistisk sentralbyrå), immigrants, who stem from 200 countries, presently make up 14 per cent of the overall population.

Inclusion of immigrants

A total number of 31 145 persons applied for asylum in Norway in 2015, representing a huge increase from the 11 000 who applied for asylum in 2014. This development follows a decade that has witnessed the largest growth of immigrants in modern times.

Welfare research

Forum for innovation in welfare services
The forum for innovation in welfare services is a professional meeting place for researchers, professionals, political and administrative decision-makers, and others who have an interest in innovation and development of welfare services and welfare policy.
Labour market integration

Project details in Norwegian only, please contact the research coordinator for more information.

Poverty and social security

In the early 2000s, poverty was rediscovered as a social political issue in Norway. Since 2001, several action plans against poverty has been launched and all governments have had poverty alleviation as a goal in their governmental platforms. Several state subsidies to prevent poverty have been established and many poverty reduction initiatives have been developed in the municipalities.


At Fafo a group of researchers are working on pensions and benefits, including retirement and disability pension from the National Insurance, occupational pensions and contractual early retirement pension (AFP).

Active ageing policy at the workplace

At Fafo we study policies targeting older workers, and how such policies affect older workers’ labor market participation and retirement behaviour. We apply a wide range of methods and theories and collaborate with national and international colleagues.