The 2008 financial crisis and its subsequent economic impacts generated a challenge for national and regional governments across the world. From this economic ruin, the Social Impact Bond (SIB) was born as an alternative mechanism for government procurement and delivery of social public services.

Social Service, Private Gain examines the evolution of SIBs, how they work, their theoretical motivation, and their global proliferation. The book critically assesses the potential of SIBs to constructively contribute to solving the multifaceted social challenges emerging from a context of entrenched and growing inequality. Claiming to bring incremental resources to the rescue, SIBs have taken up disproportionate space with new legislation, policy, subsidies, institutional supports, lobbyists, and “intermediaries” facilitating SIBs and thriving on their associated transaction costs. Drawing on mainstream and heterodox economic theory, practical case studies, and empirical data, Jesse Hajer and John Loxley generate new insights based on the limited but still suggestive publicly available data on SIB projects. Challenging the assumptions and narratives put forward by proponents of the model, they offer practical policy recommendations for SIBs and explain what the model tells us about the potential for transformational change for the better.

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