The quiet paradigm revolution of social investment

A.C. Hemerijck

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper surveys the emergence, diffusion, merits, and critics of social investment as a distinctive welfare policy paradigm. After revisiting its intellectual roots, the article subsequently develops a multidimensional life-course taxonomy of three complementary social investment functions: (i) easing the "flow" of contemporary labor-market and life-course transitions; (ii) raising the quality of the "stock" of human capital and capabilities; and (iii) maintaining strong minimum-income universal safety nets as social protection and economic stabilization "buffers". The article then tries to explain why the establishment of the social investment paradigm has unfolded in a remarkably piecemeal, but cumulatively robust, fashion over the past two decades in spite widespread skepticism in the political science literature. An open question, in conclusion, remains whether the social investment paradigm can withstand the E(M)U fiscal austerity backlash that emerged from the sovereign debt crisis in 2010.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-256
JournalSocial Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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