Working paper Open Access

Changing social investment strategies in the European Union

Baiocco; Alcidi; Corti; Mattia

Social investment has gained increasing attention in academic and policy arenas over the last decades. Its relevance for responding to social needs arising from key societal transformations has been maintained, despite ongoing debate about its social outcomes. This paper attempts to identify EU social investment strategies and explain their evolution over the period 2004-18, namely before, during and after the global financial crisis. By using cluster analysis on expenditure variables, the paper distinguishes different social investment strategies across groups of countries. It finds that strategies have diversified over time in a progressively complex way. After the crisis, three main social investment strategies emerged in Europe. They do not overlap with canonical welfare state models, nor have a clear-cut geographical connotation. The strategies are distinct because of their different levels of overall expenditure on social investment yet also their different life-course orientations and degrees of coverage. Such characterisation of social investment strategies provides a reference for further research on the differences in social investment outcomes, which will be particularly relevant in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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