What Are the Opportunities for Social Investment in the Continental European Welfare States ?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 11:15 AM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Bruno PALIER , Sciences Po, France
Anton HEMERIJCK , VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands
With their passive, employment-based, status-preserving, social insurance and male-breadwinner oriented welfare states, continental European countries are the least likely cases for social investment policy innovation. Nevertheless, some continental welfare states have introduced social investment reforms. While both the Netherlands and France have a similar legacy of a typical continental European passive social insurance-based welfare state, they have changed in various ways since the early 1990s. The Netherlands has made a strong social activation turn in social security, coupled to a more “flexicure” service-based labour market. In France, there has always been a strong policy legacy of pro-natalist childcare support. Recently, an important policy focus has been paced on the Youth in France.  In both these countries, social investment policies have come under pressure after the 2008 financial crisis. Some policy areas (like work–life reconciliation policies) seem to have been hit harder than other areas (active labour market policies).

Moreover, there is also substantial variation across countries. How to account for this? By analyzing the reform trajectories with respect to social investment both before and after the 2008 financial crisis, the paper assesses the (variable) opportunities and related feedback effects for social investment in continental Europe.