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29 Feb 2016

Social Investment and State Capacity

Miroslav Beblavy / Alžběta Hájková

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Authors: Miroslav Beblavý and Alžbeta Hájková Series: CEPS Working Documents No of pp: 13

This paper looks at the difference between the levels and nature of social policy expenditure in northern and northwest European countries and the countries of southern, central, and eastern Europe, and examines the relationship between social investment and state capacity in these country groupings. The authors show that southern and eastern countries have a much greater preference for ‘compensating’ rather than ‘capacitating’ social policy spending. Furthermore, the state capacity in these countries is lower, which generates less state revenue. Based on these observations they conclude that low state capacity and low state revenue go hand in hand with the preference for capacitating social policies, as these policies involve less delegation and discretion than social investment policies. This paper shows that high state capacity is probably a necessary precondition for effective social investment policies, although some limited alternative paths do exist.

Miroslav Beblavý is Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS. Alžbeta Hájková was a research assistant to M. Beblavý at the time of the writing this study.