In this chapter, we reflect on the historical pathways of welfare state development that can be observed in East Asia. In the early comparative welfare state literature – which had a strong European bias – debates about how and why welfare states develop featured strongly. We will begin this chapter by revisiting some of those early debates before moving to more recent theoretical arguments about whether or not East Asian welfare states have followed a similar path of development. We will then offer a more detailed analysis of the historical evolution of welfare in three key East Asian cases: Japan, (South) Korea and Taiwan. We should not eat the outset that a relatively short chapter dealing with a wide-ranging set of issues such as this one is constrained in terms of what the discussion can cover and, consequently, we necessarily focus here on the big picture, offering a ‘broad-brush’ analysis.
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