Table of Contents

Handbook on East Asian Social Policy

Handbook on East Asian Social Policy

Elgar original reference

Edited by Misa Izuhara

Dramatic socio-economic transformations over the last two decades have brought social policy and social welfare issues to prominence in many East Asian societies. Since the 1990s and in response to national as well as global pressure, there have been substantial developments and reforms in social policy in the region but the development paths have been uneven. Until recently, comparative analysis of East Asian social policy tends to have focused on the established welfare state of Japan and the emerging welfare regimes of four ‘Tiger Economies’. Much of the recent debate indeed preceded China’s re-emergence onto the world economy. In this context, this Handbook brings China more fully into the contemporary social policy debates in East Asia. Organised around five themes from welfare state developments, to theories and methodologies, to current social policy issues, the Handbook presents original research from leading specialists in the fields, and provides a fresh and updated perspective to the study of social policy.

Chapter 9: The shaping of social policies in relation to demographic ageing in East Asia

Kalyani K. Mehta

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, asian politics and policy, asian social policy, development studies, asian development, politics and public policy, asian politics, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


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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