Soo‐Wan Kim, Sang‐Hoon Ahn | Asian Social Work and Policy Review
The purpose of this study is to theoretically and empirically examine whether public spending in education, health care, and welfare service operates as a fruitful investment in welfare states, which has been implied in the literature of social investment arguments. Based on comprehensive review of existing literature, this study suggested a tripartite mechanism of social investment effect of such spending, that is “enhancement of human capital,” “support for labor force participation,” and “job creation.” To find the empirical evidence, a pooled time‐series cross‐section analysis was conducted with the data of 15 advanced welfare states from 1980 to 2015 using estimation technique of fixed‐effect model. The results confirmed that public spending in education, health care, and welfare service had a positive medium‐term as well as long‐term effect on economic performance, while cash‐type welfare spending had an obscure or no visible effect on economy. Government consumption that is a proxy and control variable of size of the welfare state showed a positive effect on real GDP in the medium term but a negative effect in the long run. In conclusion, this study suggests that reinforcing social services should be recognized and dealt with as essence of social investment strategy.