The World Politics of Social Investment


Recent research on the development and implementation of social investment (i. e. policies that aim at creating, preserving, and mobilizing human skills and capabilities) has shown that there is some level of implementation of social investment policies not only in different regions of Europe, but also in North America, Latin America and East Asia. However, one cannot speak of a general development of a social investment welfare state, as the phase but also-and especially-the specific substance of the social investment policies varies strongly between these regions. Why have social investment ideas and policies been more developed in some regions and countries than in others? Going beyond different structural pressure, the project aims at theorizing the politics of social investment and testing different explanations empirically. The aim is to assess what the political conditions for the development of social investment policies are. Given that similar governments in different contexts have adopted different strategies with regard to social investment, the project investigates the institutional and socio-structural factors that enable or prevent political support coalitions for (different kinds of) social investment.

This project assesses the political conditions for the development of social investment policies, investigate the politics of Social Investment in Europe, North and Latin America and East Asia along the following three questions:

  1. What explains the content of the social investment agenda? To what degree and in what form is social investment politicized? (empirically: identify framing and the effect of institutional legacies – constraints, economic strategy- on the social investment agenda in different regions of the world)
  2. How does political conflict over social investment map onto other conflict lines and cleavages? (empirically: identify actor positions, dimensionality, links between actor positions on different issues).
  3.  What political coalitions support or prevent a social investment turn ? Why do policies in some areas taken an inclusive form, while they are stratified or targeted elsewhere? (empirically: identify reform coalitions and the institutional and structural conditions that produce them)