Handbook of European Social Policy
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Handbook of European Social Policy

Edited by Patricia Kennett and Noemi Lendvai-Bainton

This Handbook will comprise of 29 original pieces from key contributors to the field of European social policy. It is intended to capture the ‘state of the art’ in European social policy and to generate and contribute to debates on the the future of European social policy in the 21st Century. It will be a comprehensive and authoritative resource for research and teaching covering themes and policy areas including social exclusion, pensions, education, children and family, as well as mobility and migration, multiculturalism, and climate change.
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Chapter 5: Social investment over the life course: ending European social policy as we know it?

Jon Kvist


This chapter demonstrates how social investment may change the social policy paradigm in Europe. The chapter shows how adopting a life-course perspective on social investments allows for a new view of both social problems and social policies that is more dynamic and multidimensional than the conventional life-cycle perspective. Social investments in the form of social services, health care, education as well as labour market and family policies can prepare and rehabilitate rather than repair. Social investment policies concern health, families, education and labour markets that, over the life cycle, aim to develop, strengthen, maintain and rehabilitate individuals’ functional capacities with regard to mobility, cognition, self-care, getting along, life activities and participation. In turn, societal returns manifest themselves in various domains, including reproduction and employment. In these ways the establishment of childcare, education, family, employment and health services cost money in the here and now, but these investments will pay off and reduce social expenditure in the medium to long term, thereby freeing resources for other policies.

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