Global Challenges and Restructuring
Edited by Gyu-Jin Hwang
Chapter 2: The Welfare Modelling Business Revisited: The Case of East Asian Welfare Regimes
1 Peter Abrahamson The conventional wisdom in public-policy circles is that East Asia is a region of social-policy laggards. The generalization is not only false, it betrays the vast differences that characterize the region. (Ramesh, 2004: 1) Contrary to the anticipation of many globalization theorists, social protection was extended in terms of coverage and strengthened in terms of quality of provision in some East Asian economies. (Kwon, 2009: S19) Introduction Discussing the welfare modelling business and focusing on East Asia a decade ago two distinctly different perspectives prevailed (Abrahamson, 1999). One was that there existed a particular Confucian welfare society which was said to describe accurately the development in the region: its features being an emphasis on family obligations, education and social harmony. This view was promoted by Catherine Jones Finer (1993) and Arthur Gould (1993), among others. The other perspective, promoted by Gøsta Esping-Andersen (1997) held that Japan as a representative of East Asia could adequately be described as a hybrid between the European conservative welfare state regime and the Atlantic liberal welfare state regime, its features being corporate social policies combined with strong reliance on market and family. Since then a significant conceptual development has occurred, but there is no consensus about how to label the welfare regime of East Asia; but in general the idea of a Confucian welfare regime type has been abandoned: ‘the explanatory power of Confucianism has been overemphasized with reference to both the past and the present of welfare regimes in East...
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