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Working group

Social Investment Working Group: Paper presentations

11th session

Add to calendar 2024-04-03 16:00 2024-04-03 18:00 Europe/Rome Social Investment Working Group: Paper presentations Sala del Capitolo Badia Fiesolana YYYY-MM-DD


03 April 2024

16:00 - 18:00 CEST


Sala del Capitolo

Badia Fiesolana

In this SIWG session, Heta Pöyliö (EUI Research Fellow) will hold a presentation about the individual subjective wellbeing returns of social investment during life transitions, while Annika Lehmus-Sun (EUI Research Fellow) will present her research on the impact of social investment on subjective capacity over life-course stages.

Moulding Subjective Wellbeing into the Welfare State - Social Investment Impact over Life Transitions

Speaker: Heta Pöyliö (Research Fellow, EUI) 

The social investment turn in various European welfare states has increased in-kind social provision, particularly influencing the wellbeing of families and elderly. While social investment (SI) emphasises the capacitating impact of public policies, by providing secure functioning to the directly targeted groups but also to the wider population, wellbeing returns to SI have so far included only objective measures. Therefore, this article tests whether the increased welfare state provision in form of in-kind social spending is associated with individual subjective wellbeing (SWB). By focusing on the life transitions of family formation and retirement, the paper tests whether policies impact these groups more directly supported by the policies, and whether there are wider positive wellbeing returns outside these groups. By linking individual life satisfaction data from European Social Survey (2002-2020) with the social policy expenditure data from OECD, this paper examines the within-country changes in the association. The preliminary multilevel regression analyses demonstrate a positive overall impact of in-kind policy changes and subjective wellbeing. Family policies seem to have wider positive implications on SWB outside family population, indicating particularly positive returns among the grandparents . The in-kind old age policies, on the other hand, are found to be linked positively among the retired, while the intergenerational effect indicates a weak signalling effect of such policies among the wider population.


Subjective Capacity, the Life-Course, and Social Investment

Speaker: Annika Lehmus-Sun (Research Fellow, EUI) 

This study delves into the multifaceted relationship between social investment policies and subjective capacity across different life-course stages. With a threefold objective, it aims to elucidate the impact of the welfare state, conceptualised as social investment, on subjective capacity, assess variations in this impact across parenthood, unemployment, and aging, and explore how social investment influences specific subjective capacity domains (agency, resilience, optimism, and sense of meaning) during these life-course stages. Utilising data from Eurofound's European Quality of Life Survey and OECD's Social Expenditure Database along with Labour Market Programme statistics, the study employs linear regression multi-level models to analyze cross-level interactions between policy expenditure and life-course stages. Findings reveal that social investment acts as a moderator, alleviating the negative impact of parenthood and ageing on subjective capacity, while exerting a lesser influence in the context of unemployment. Specifically, in-kind expenditure on family and old age policies demonstrates significant moderating effects, fostering higher levels of subjective capacity among parents and ageing individuals. However, the influence of labour market policies on subjective capacity during unemployment is less pronounced. Analysis of subjective capacity domains indicates differential effects of in-kind spending across life-course stages. With higher in-kind spending, parenthood is associated with a positive impact on agency, optimism, and meaning. Meanwhile, unemployment exhibits minimal changes in agency and optimism but yields positive effects on resilience and meaning. Ageing positively influences agency, resilience, and meaning, albeit with minimal impact on optimism.

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