Quotation Heitzmann, Karin, Matzinger, Sandra. 2021. The (changing) consideration of social investment in the design of welfare benefits: The case of poverty relief in Austria. Social Policy and Administration. 55 (4), 573-588.




The social investment perspective has become a prominent topic in both social policy discussions and theoretical considerations regarding welfare state change. Empirical evidence on how this perspective has affected welfare state provision is much scarcer—and sometimes contradictory. This article aims to assess whether welfare state benefits increasingly have incorporated elements of social investment, and what has triggered the reforms made to the benefits. To achieve these aims, we examined two poverty relief benefits in Austria, namely, unemployment assistance and social assistance. We scrutinized changes made to these benefits from 2000 onwards. To identify their (potentially changing) contributions towards social investment, we applied a framework that considers the economic aims of the paradigm (while neglecting other aims). According to this framework, a social investment benefit intends to improve the human capital of its recipients, enhance their employability, and/or enhance their employment integration. The findings suggest that the three elements of social investment were particularly relevant in reforming social assistance. However, the changes implemented were incoherent and do not support the hypothesis of an ever-increasing significance of social investment. The main triggers for reform were the political ideologies of (changing) governments. These ideologies determined the direction of changes made to both social assistance and unemployment assistance. If social investment thus ought to be more than just a theoretical concept or a nonbinding policy recommen dation, modifications made to welfare state benefits would need to follow a more coherent path. Regarding poor relief benefits, Austria has not pursued such a track (yet).


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Social Policy and Administration
Citation Index SSCI
Language English
Title The (changing) consideration of social investment in the design of welfare benefits: The case of poverty relief in Austria
Volume 55
Number 4
Year 2021
Page from 573
Page to 588
Reviewed? Y
URL https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/spol.12643
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/spol.12643
Open Access Y
Open Access Link https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/spol.12643


Social investment in Austrian poverty politics: fact or fiction?
Heitzmann, Karin (Details)
Matzinger, Sandra (Details)
Institute for Social Policy IN (Details)
Economics of Inequality FI (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5427 Poverty research, social exclusion (Details)
5911 Social policy (Details)
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