1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development (2000 - 2009)

Social Policy as a Developmental Tool? Risks, Distributional Conflict and the Mobilisation of Resources (Draft)



Is social policy a necessary ingredient of economic growth and development, or its possibly dysfunctional by-product? This is a grand question that does not permit a definitive answer. There are many strands of literature in economics and other social sciences that let one approach this question.
This paper uses economic theory and the empirical experiences of one Nordic economy, Finland, to suggest some positive linkages between social policy and economic development. It discusses, in particular, the role of social policies in alleviating the negative effects of risks and uncertainty as well as of distributional conflicts - both inevitably associated with economic growth and development. It outlines some economic arguments and shows that they can at least shed some light on the experience of such countries as Finland, characterized by small size, corporatist political and economic structures and "lateness" in industrialization and economic development. Whether these lessons on national growth and innovation systems are of any interest for those countries that try to find their niches in the globalized economy of the new millennium is another question.

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