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The Next Neoliberal Thing: Social Impact Bonds

Social Impact Bonds are a new way of financing social welfare programs. They involve turning to the private sector to get investors who  are repaid with interest only if the program they invest in meets its benchmarks. Originally invented by an economist from New Zealand in 1988, Social  Impact Bonds  are recently starting to actually be implemented. They  are what has been called a "fast-track global social policy" that spreads from one country to another, first in England, then the US, now Canada, Australia and increasingly elsewhere. They represent the latest example of neoliberalization of the welfare state, where state functions are marketized so as to run according market logic. This presentation explains Social Impact Bonds, assesses the early findings on them and raises issues as to their effects for the social welfare state.

Sanford Schram teaches at Hunter College, CUNY, in the Political Science Department and the Public Policy Program at Roosevelt House. He is currently a visiting fellow at the US Study Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. Schram has published 12 books, including Words of Welfare: The Poverty of Social Science and the Social Science of Poverty (1995) and Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race (2011), co-authored with Joe Soss and Richard Fording, both of which won the Michael Harrington Award from the American Political Science Association. His most recent book is Becoming a Footnote: An Activist-Scholar Finds His Voice, Learns to Write, and Survives Academia (2013). Schram is the 2012 recipient of the Charles McCoy Career Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association. He is currently completing a book manuscript entitled The Return of Ordinary Capitalism: Neoliberalism, Precarity, Occupy.