Disappointing poverty trends : is the social investment state to blame? An exercise in soul-searching for policy-makers
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Antwerp :UA, 2011
CSB working paper / University of Antwerp, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy ; 11/01
University of Antwerp
Should we explain the disappointing outcomes of the Open Method of Coordination on Inclusion by methodological weaknesses or by substantive contradictions in the social investment paradigm? To clarify the underlying concepts, we first revisit the original Lisbon inspiration, and subsequently relate it to the idea of the new welfare state, as proposed in the literature on new risks in post-industrial societies. We then discuss two explanations for disappointing poverty trends, suggested by critical accounts of the social investment state: resource competition and a re-commodification. We do not find these explanations convincing per se and conclude that the jury is still out on the social investment state. However, policy makers cannot ignore the failure of employment policies to reduce the proportion of children and working-age adults living in jobless households in the EU, and they should not deny the reality of a trilemma of activation. Finally, we identify policy conditions that may facilitate the complementarity of social investment and social inclusion.