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The Observatory

Percorsi di secondo welfare is a research project started in April 2011 thanks to a partnership between the University of Milan, the research centre Centro di ricerca e documentazione Luigi Einaudi and the newspaper Corriere della Sera. Today it is an independent Observatory of research actively supported by important institutional partners: Fondazione Cariplo, Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione Cariparma, Fondazione Cariparo, Fondazione CRC, Fondazione Bracco, Fondazione Unipolis, Cisl Lombardia, Edenred, Welfare Insieme, Ambito Valle Seriana, Gruppo CGM. The Laboratory is led by Prof. Franca Maino as director and Prof. Maurizio Ferrera as scientific supervisor, both academics at University of Milan.

The concept of second welfare

Percorsi di secondo welfare is committed to enhancing the common understanding of what has recently come to be known as “second welfare”. The term, initially coined by Dario di Vico and Maurizio Ferrera by means of their contributions on the Corriere della Sera, refers to “a mix of social protection and social investment programs which are not funded by the State, but provided instead by a wide range of economic and social actors, linked to territories and local communities, but open to trans-local partnerships and collaborations (including the EU)” (Ferrera and Maino, 2011).


Through the collection and evaluation of new initiatives and best practices, the study seeks to promote a “virtuous nesting” between first and second welfare, that will ultimately be able to tackle the challenges posed by demographic trends and the emergence of new social needs, and worsened by the present financial situation. Our research encompasses several areas of the social provision, with a specific focus on the non-public actors that increasingly play a role in the welfare arena, and the dynamics that determine their growing involvement. These players are private companies, trade unions, insurance companies, foundations, grant-making associations and the “Third Sector”, professional associations, and the local governments and public institutions that build partnerships together with those private actors. Occupational welfare, venture philanthropy, industrial relations and impact investment are, among others, fields of interest of the Observatory.


The website www.secondowelfare.it collects the most significant “second welfare” experiences at mostly national but to some extent international levels, and attempts to spread them for purposes of analysis, evaluation and, hopefully, emulation. Our research also seeks to build a comprehensive database of what already exists in terms of “second welfare” practices, and to elaborate a strong conceptual framework for future reference.

Research Reports

In its early life the Observatory has produced hundreds of interviews, working papers and scientific articles, as well as contributing to numerous events and conferences around the themes of the second welfare. Much of the research carried out in the first years of the project was collected in the Reports on the second welfare in Italy that, in addition to a review of the most interesting second welfare experiences in our country, offer interpretations and evaluations of the dynamics developed around this phenomenon.

English Section

Percorsi di secondo welfare has a English section in order to provide articles translated and original international contributions as well as to promote the debate on second welfare and the exchange of best practices.