Evaluating Social Investments

Lars Hultkrantz

Social investment funds mean that a municipality or region deposits funds in a fund used to finance social projects, often targeting children and young people. The objective is to provide both long-term economic and human gains.

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Taking his staring point in an analysis of the experiences in Norrköping municipality which, together with Umeå, was the first municipality in Sweden to introduce social investment funds, professor LARS HULTKRANTZ presents a model for how these should be designed in order to be successful. The results are presented in two new SNS research reports. You can read more about the second report Social Investment Funds in Sweden – Facts and Lessons here.

In Sweden, every fifth municipality, two county councils and two regions have, so far, introduced social investment funds and plans to start funds exist in a large number of municipalities. There is a broad consensus among politicians and experts about the importance of preventive measures for children and young people and that social investment funds constitute a good way of introducing such measures. At the same time, there are large differences in the design of social investment funds and how the effects are evaluated.

Lars Hultkrantz would like a nationally coordinated system to evaluate the effects of social investment funds. Moreover, guidelines are needed for how the long-term savings that the investments entail are to be returned to the fund. He considers it strange that the method for designing and evaluating social investment funds in Sweden has been so little developed:

– In Swedish municipalities, there is very little experience of evaluations of effects and the national authorities have so far been uninterested in illustrating long-term economic consequences of social investments. But in order to analyse the measures for children and young people, one needs to have a long-term perspective and focus on the welfare effects, both human and economic effects.

The papers Social Investments in Sweden: Facts and Lessons and Evaluating Social Investments are written by Lars Hultkrantz, Professor of Economics, Örebro University School of Business. The papers are part of an SNS research project that spans several years, Investments in Equal Chances in Life.