Chapter 9: The shaping of social policies in relation to demographic ageing in East Asia
The demographic ‘paradigm shift’ that is affecting almost all countries in East Asia has implications for all sectors of society. According to Hill (2009), ‘population aging, alongside other social and economic conditions, represents one of the most difficult challenges to social policy development in this region’ (p. 2). In the context of global ageing, how are East Asian countries different from other developed countries that are undergoing the ageing phenomenon? Are the responses of East Asian governments fundamentally different from those of European or American nations? Is it an undeniable truth that ‘East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet’? This chapter strives to examine the shaping of the policies of some nations that constitute East Asia in an effort to compare the wisdoms of the East and West in dealing with one of the critical challenges of the twenty-first century. The rationale behind some of the legislative responses as well as the social policy responses will be discussed, to throw light on the cultural variations as well as the political ideologies. There are two major features that stand out in the initial analysis of East Asian policy responses to demographic ageing of the populations.
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