Global Challenges and Restructuring
Edited by Gyu-Jin Hwang
Chapter 1: New Global Challenges and Welfare State Restructuring in East Asia: Continuity and Change
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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