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  • Series: New Horizons in Social Policy series x
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Edited by Caroline Dewilde and Richard Ronald

Both growth and unevenness in the distribution of housing wealth have become characteristic of advanced societies in recent decades. Housing Wealth and Welfare examines, in various contexts, how housing property ownership has become central both to household wellbeing and to the reshaping of social, economic and political relations.
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Edited by James Midgley, Espen Dahl and Amy Conley Wright

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James Midgley, Espen Dahl and Amy Conley Wright

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James Midgley

The first chapter by James Midgley provides a broad introduction to the concept of social investment and the way it is used in different academic and professional fields. Noting that the term ‘social investment’ is poorly defined, he offers a definition and examines the meaning of terms such as ‘investment’, ‘consumption’, ‘income’, ‘assets’ and ‘capital’ which are widely used in economics. The chapter then reviews the different ways the term ‘social investment’ has been used in four academic and professional fields, namely social policy, nonprofit management, community studies and development studies where investment ideas have been influential since the 1950s. The chapter contends that scholars will benefit from understanding the way the concept of social investment has been employed in these different academic and professional fields. It concludes by suggesting that may be possible to synthesize these different approaches to promote a comprehensive and globally relevant interpretation that will enhance the academic and policy relevance of social investment ideas. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, social policy

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Amy Conley Wright

This chapter by Amy Conley Wright discusses social investment in early childhood in Australia. She presents arguments for social investment in young children and potential benefits for families, children and the broader society. The chapter then examines the Australian national early childhood development strategy, called Investing in the Early Years (Council of Australian Government, 2009) to analyse strengths, gaps and challenges. This strategy is designed to promote the best possible outcomes for children, and by extension the nation. Policies in the areas of early childhood care and education, social transfers and parental leave are described and contextualized through a comparison with averages provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to identify strengths, gaps and challenges. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, early childhood, Australia

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James Lee

This chapter by James Lee discusses the role of housing in social investment with reference to Singapore and other East Asian countries where housing serves not only to meet shelter needs but also as a powerful investment tool that has major long-term welfare effects. Traditional social policy theories have been vague on the social investment impact of social policy, especially with regard to housing policy. Its dual nature, as both consumption and investment, has made it difficult to align with other social polices such as health care and education. This chapter examines its role as social investment in two contrasting high-growth urban economies in East Asia: Singapore and Hong Kong. First, it tackles a gap in contemporary social policy debates and explains why the social investment aspect has been neglected. Second, through the case studies of Hong Kong and Singapore, it explains the important relationship between housing policy and social security. The purpose is to look beyond the residential dimension of housing and to establish a connection between housing policy and asset-building. Given its enormous potentials on investment and returns, its impact on quality of life, wealth and social justice, a thorough understanding of the role of housing policy is vital to realizing the social investment potentials of contemporary social policy. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, housing, Hong Kong, Singapore

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Sony Pellissery

This chapter by Sony Pellissery discusses social investments policies in India focusing on employment and early childhood programmes and the way they seek to meet the needs of poor families in India and provide them with resources that have an investment function. The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), since its beginning in the 1970s, focused on providing nutrition to the pregnant women and children up to the age of formal schooling. In contexts where poverty is pervasive, the chances of welfare loss through neglect as well as affordability are very high. The long-term impact of such neglect on human capital is immense. Similarly, since 1972 one of the states of India – Maharashtra – has had an employment guarantee scheme, which has been scaled up to national level since 2005, with an aim to provide employment opportunities in lean agricultural seasons as well as to build community assets through such labour. The chapter offers a detailed review of these two programmes and shows how a social investment approach was an essential component of development expenditure in the Global South. Key words: social investment, international social welfare, social protection, India

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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