How can evidence inform the fight against poverty and social exclusion? What should the role of the European Union be? In my presentation “Social investments over the life cycle: FP7/Horizon 2020 and social investment strategies” I argued that adopting a life course perspective on social investments is a columbus egg. The life course perspective enables insights from different disciplines as diverse as medical science on public health, psychology on personal development, sociology on social mobility, and economics assessing costs and benefits, to inform us about which policies work for whom at what stages and with what returns. The European Union can help accumulate and disseminate such evidence by a range of initiatives, including systematic reviews of interventions, knowledge banks on best practice and social innovations, and informing country specific recommendations with the evidence accumulated. Luckily, we do not have to start from scratch. Already we have loads of knowledge about what works and what does not. It simply has to be brought into a common conceptual framework and to be institutionally integrated in the work of the European Union.
This was my contribution at the Annual European Convention Against Poverty and Social Exclusion that took place in Brussels, 20-21 November, 2014. Unfortunately, the numbers at risk of poverty and social exclusion has risen since the first Convention in 2011. Fortunately, the fight against poverty and social exclusion has gained momentum with the launch last year of a social investment strategy that since has become integrated into the European Semester. Potentially, the fight against poverty can now be informed in the most binding type of collaboration in the European Union. For many exciting contributions to fight poverty and social exclusion, check the website or #poverty2020.