Handbook on East Asian Social Policy
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Handbook on East Asian Social Policy

Edited by Misa Izuhara

Dramatic socio-economic transformations over the last two decades have brought social policy and social welfare issues to prominence in many East Asian societies. Since the 1990s and in response to national as well as global pressure, there have been substantial developments and reforms in social policy in the region but the development paths have been uneven. Until recently, comparative analysis of East Asian social policy tends to have focused on the established welfare state of Japan and the emerging welfare regimes of four ‘Tiger Economies’. Much of the recent debate indeed preceded China’s re-emergence onto the world economy. In this context, this Handbook brings China more fully into the contemporary social policy debates in East Asia. Organised around five themes from welfare state developments, to theories and methodologies, to current social policy issues, the Handbook presents original research from leading specialists in the fields, and provides a fresh and updated perspective to the study of social policy.
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Chapter 1: Pathways of welfare state development in East Asia

John Hudson and Gyu-Jin Hwang


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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