New Welfare States in East Asia

New Welfare States in East Asia

Global Challenges and Restructuring

Edited by Gyu-Jin Hwang

The fast changing economic climate is creating substantial pressure for welfare state restructuring worldwide. Yet the discussion regarding challenges faced and the responses required has been confined to the ‘standard welfare states’ in the West. This book examines whether these challenges also apply to the countries in the East, whether these countries have generated different responses to their Western counterparts, and whether they have undergone a process of regime transformation while responding to these pressures.

Chapter 1: New Global Challenges and Welfare State Restructuring in East Asia: Continuity and Change

Gyu-Jin Hwang

Subjects: asian studies, asian social policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, welfare states


Gyu-Jin Hwang What are the issues? In recent years significant changes have taken place to the world of work. These include substantial shifts in productive activity, increasing problems in job security and deterioration in pay for those jobs most subject to competition. The long list of formidable challenges and pressures exerts a combined pressure on traditional forms of state welfare, threatening the viability of the welfare state and sometimes its survival altogether. A number of scholars have pointed out that these challenges not only limit the range of options available for governments to promote employment and finance social provisions but also require new responses against increasing risks, needs and demands as a result of labour-market and family changes (Baumol, 1967; Esping-Andersen, 1999; Iversen and Wren, 1998; Pierson, 2001a; Taylor-Gooby, 2004). In other words, the Golden Age of post-war welfare state expansion and its achievement is seen to have grown to its limits (cf. Flora, 1986). To these challenges, often represented by an increasingly interdependent world economy and fast-changing labour-market conditions, many scholars have anticipated a significant degree of convergence (Scharpf, 1991; Mishra, 1996; Greider, 1997; Martin and Schumann, 1997; Gray, 2002). Indeed, many countries have embraced free-market policy prescriptions as a solution to a range of policy problems and some scholars predict a long-run decline – a race to the bottom – of the welfare state (Rodrik, 1997; Allard and Danzinger, 2000), or a future of ‘permanent austerity’ (Pierson, 2001b: 456). However, much of this debate is confined to the standard welfare...

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