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  • Series: New Horizons in Social Policy series x
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Espen Dahl and Thomas Lorentzen

This chapter by Espen Dahl and Thomas Lorentzen examines labour market policy and related social polices in Norway, focusing on a selected set of recent reforms as well as their outcomes such as work participation and earnings, in particular for disadvantaged groups that are often targets of the reforms. A rather mixed picture emerges. Some reforms and parts of larger reforms carry the stamp of a true social investment approach, for example the reform in the Welfare and Labour Administration, and the Qualification Programme targeted at social assistance recipients. Other reforms, such as changes in the Work Environment Act, cuts in benefits for disability beneficiaries with low pre-disability earnings, and stricter conditions for receiving social assistance benefit fit poorly with a social investment strategy. Yet, it should be added that these reforms mostly tend to be carefully designed, are rather moderate in nature and restricted in scope. As these reforms are recent, their consequences are still unknown. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, labour markets, employment policy, Norway

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Leila Patel

This chapter by Leila Patel discusses the gender dimensions of the Child Support Grant (CSG) in South Africa. This is one of the country’s largest social protection programmes, reaching almost 40 per cent of poor children. The CSG is cited as a social investment in social care in the family and households yielding positive outcomes through the empowerment of women, which in turn contributes to improved child well-being. The author draws on national and community-level data on gender and care in South Africa. The data however also point to the limitations of social investment policies in promoting gender justice, especially where such social policies fail to challenge the gendered nature of care in the family, community and in the social service sector. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, social protection, gender, South Africa

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James Midgley

This chapter by James Midgley discusses asset building at the community level in the United States where community development programmes have a long history and have prioritized inventions that transcend traditional welfare approaches. Noting that the literature on social investment has paid little if any attention to investments at the community level, this chapter examines the way the federal and state governments of the United States, supported by nonprofit organizations, have sought to invest in low-income communities by mobilizing assets, expanding employment, increasing access to education and affordable housing, and raising standards of living. It begins by tracing the origins of the community social investment approach in the late nineteenth century, when the settlement house movement introduced a number of initiatives designed to deal with urban poverty and deprivation brought about by industrialization, urbanization and mass migration into the United States. These activities were subsequently augmented by programmes introduced during the War on Poverty in the 1960s. The chapter discusses the way these programmes have evolved and now comprise a variety of community and asset building initiatives throughout the country. It concludes by assessing the achievements as well as limitations of the community social investment approach in the United States. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, community development, United States of America

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Anthony Hall

This chapter by Anthony Hall takes a critical look at cash transfers in Brazil and assesses their strengths and limitations as promoting social investments. Brazil’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme, the world’s largest, which benefits more than a quarter of the country’s total population of more than 200 million, appears to embrace certain elements of a social investment approach, at least in principle. Following World Bank policy guidelines on CCTs, Bolsa Fam'lia aims to strengthen human capital formation by boosting school attendance and encouraging mothers’ participation in vaccination and other preventive health care campaigns. Although the government has announced plans to make the programme more production-oriented, there are few direct links with employment creation, which have remained largely hypothetical. Furthermore, in the quest to maximize electoral gains through a focus on widening cash benefits, there has been a noticeable failure to make any significant headway with broader and longer-term social investments in health, basic sanitation, education, and housing, for example. Such broad-based infrastructure support would serve to underpin the process of economic growth in a more sustainable fashion. This underlying tension will continue to frustrate any pretensions that Brazil might harbour towards developing an authentic social investment model, at least for the foreseeable future. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, Bolsa Familia, social protection, Brazil

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Joe C. B. Leung and Yuebin Xu

This chapter by Joe Leung and Yuebin Xu discusses pension reform in China and questions whether the government’s pension policies effectively promote social investments that produce future benefits to elders. Facing the challenges of the ageing population, escalating pension payments and imminent declining workforce, China has to formulate a sustainable, adequate and affordable pension system. Using pension reforms as an example, this chapter illustrates that harmonizing pension reforms are regarded as the key instrument of social investment strategy to promote economic performance. Pension reforms are pivotal to restructure the labor market, facilitate labour mobility and integration across regions, occupational sectors, and rural and urban areas, as well as to enhance the quality of human capital. In short, a modernized economy has to be accompanied by a universal and equitable social security system. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, pensions, social protection, China

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Knut Halvorsen, Amy Østertun Geirdal and Anne Grete Tøge

This chapter by Knut Halvorsen, Amy Østertun Geirdal and Anne Grete Tøge critically examines child care policies and programmes in Norway. The experiences of Norwegian children in preschools, schools and families, and the impact on their happiness and mental health, are examined in relation to other European and Western children. The assumption that social investments in children and parents are always in the best interests of the well-being of children is questioned. Drawing on the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1989, the authors contend that human rights, capabilities and citizens’ perspectives should be considered, as an alternative to the social investment perspective. It is argued that the child’s present experience (being) should be balanced with future-oriented investments (becoming).

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Steinar Stjernø

This chapter by Steinar Stjernø discusses the role of social investment as a means of integrating immigrants in Europe. The total foreign-born population of the European Union (EU) now constitutes 21 million persons, and in recent years, more than 1 million persons have been seeking asylum every year. A large share of immigrants are young people of working age. The author discusses the idea of social investment in EU immigration policy. First, the chapter describes the number and distribution of immigrants from non-EU countries. Second, the development of the role of the idea of social investment in the EU’s normative framework is analysed, with a particular focus on immigrants and the intnionegration of immigrants into the labour market. Third, the chapter concludes with a discussion of the relationship between declarations and actions. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, immigration, social integration, European Union

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Sarah Cook

This chapter by Sarah Cook reviews the role of the international organizations in promoting social investment. This chapter explores the ways in which a ‘social investment’ approach and terminology has been adopted and promoted by selected international development organizations, including international financial institutions, the United Nations, European Union and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as well as some international non-governmental organizations. It focuses on the period since the 1990s, when a ‘social turn’ in development policy emerged as a reaction to the devastating social consequences of Washington Consensus adjustment policies, foreshadowing the global commitment to poverty reduction through the Millenium Development Goals and the evolution of a range of new policy instruments to deliver on this social agenda; most notably through targeted and conditional cash transfers.. International organizations have played a significant role in the spread of such ideas and practices which can be identified with the social investment approach, if not always labelled as such. The widespread promotion of these new instruments in development contexts, however, tends to obscure significant differences in goals, values and approaches among organizations. While often justified in social investment terms, a strong theoretical case for the use of such instruments as development policy is lacking. Instead, the case is largely grounded in evidence of ‘what works’ for short-term results linked to organizational priorities, notably poverty alleviation, impacts on specific groups (women, children) and behavioural change (such as use of health and education services). Key words: social investment, international social welfare, international development organizations

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James Midgley, Espen Dahl and Amy Conley Wright

The concluding chapter by the editors offers a short summary of the book and its chapters, drawing attention to the major lessons learned and discussing some of the future directions scholarly research in the field should take. They point out that although the book offers a critique of the Western literature, it is not intended primarily to critique this literature but rather to enhance its international relevance and contribute to the emergence of a globally relevant body of knowledge on social investment that will be helpful to policy-makers and practitioners seeking to promote social welfare around the world. Key words: social investment, international social welfare

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Social Investment and Social Welfare

International and Critical Perspectives

Edited by James Midgley, Espen Dahl and Amy Conley Wright

This book contributes to the growing literature on social investment by discussing the way social investment ideas have been adopted in different countries and in various academic and professional fields, including social policy, development studies and non-profit management. Documenting the experience of implementing social investment in different communities, it encourages a One World perspective that integrates these diverse experiences and promotes policy learning between different nations.