Basic Income and the Social Investment State: Towards Mutual Reinforcement?

Luke Martinelli, Yannick Vanderborght

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)


Is a social investment strategy compatible with the provision of an unconditional basic income? Prima facie, these two scenarios look like incongruent policy alternatives. While social investment – an influential policy paradigm at the level of the European Union – aims at promoting public services and maximum labour market participation, basic income is paid in cash and has sometimes been presented as the key component of a post-work future. In this article, we explore this apparent incongruence and show that these two visions for welfare reform are not necessarily incompatible. We argue that they may share a number of substantial points of agreement, and indeed may reinforce one another according to a logic of institutional complementarity. In particular, we claim that a partial basic income (i.e., a modest unconditional income guarantee, whose amount would be insufficient if one lives alone) could enhance or complement the key functions of a social-democratic version of the social investment strategy. By doing so, we conclude that the integration of a basic income into a social investment package could contribute to overcoming criticisms of the social investment agenda. At the same time, it could rescue basic income from the numerous critics who see it as an unrealistic policy proposal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-57
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Security
Issue number1
Early online date4 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Previous versions of this paper have been presented at the University of Swansea (May 2017), the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung (November 2017), the University of Tampere (August 2018) and the University of Bath (December 2018). We benefited from feedback and comments of the organizers and participants in these conferences and workshops. For providing detailed insights at the early stages of writing, we owe special thanks to Jurgen De Wispelaere. We also thank the anonymous reviewers and Tim Goedemé for their helpful comments and suggestions. All remaining errors and shortcomings are our own. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Public Administration


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