Evidence from Eleven Countries
Edited by Giuliano Bonoli and Toshimitsu Shinkawa
Chapter 9: Pension Reform in Taiwan: The Old and the New Politics of Welfare
Chen-Wei Lin INTRODUCTION Taiwan’s achievement in economic development began to draw scholarly attention in the 1980s. For many observers, the so-called ‘Taiwan Miracle’ (or the East Asian Miracle) was remarkable not only because of its recordbreaking rapid economic development but also the concomitant democratization and equitable growth achieved by the island-nation (World Bank, 1992; Gold, 1986; Fei et al., 1979). The success story was lauded again in the 1990s. This time, however, the praise came from a different camp. Rather than industrialization and economic growth, some began to pay attention to the fast-changing welfare institutions of Taiwan (White and Goodman, 1998). There scholars also found great hopes. Beginning in the early 1980s, Taiwan launched a series of welfare reforms. Laws concerning social assistance, old age welfare, labour standards, youth welfare and many other welfare measures were revamped (Lin, Wan-I, 2002). The Kuomintang (Nationalist Party, hereafter KMT) government also expanded the enrolment and coverage of the Labour Insurance, and launched a new health insurance scheme for all farmers.1 These efforts of improving various welfare programmes and institutions culminated in the inauguration of the National Health Insurance (NHI). The NHI not only brought Taiwan a universal health insurance, it also unified the previously fragmented medical insurance systems, and resolved the serious financial crisis some of these schemes were facing. The NHI was a tremendous success. Polls after 1995 consistently showed that more than 70 per cent of enrolees, hence 70 per cent of citizens, were ‘satisfied with the NHI’ (CBNHI, 2000). Some...
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