Circulating Ideas of Policy and Legal Decisions Processes in Korea and Germany
Edited By Eun-Jeung Lee and Hannes B. Mosler
(3) The Making of the Welfare State in Korea: Policy Discourses and Strategies
Abstract This chapter deals with the competing discourses and strategies that have influenced the development of welfare systems and the expansion of welfare expenditure in South Korea. The author evaluates the institutional consequences of welfare reform in Korea and analyzes the underlying nature of welfare state transformation in relation to Western experiences.
The welfare state in Korea has developed since the 1960s from limited welfare programs toward more comprehensive welfare systems. This process has resulted in the welfare state in Korea having rather unique characteristics, many of which it has in common only with other East Asian countries. Numerous scholars have argued that an important feature of the evolution of social policy in East Asia has been “welfare developmentalism,” which views social policy as an instrument for economic development (Goodman and White 1998; Holliday 2000; Kwon 2007). While history has seen a rapid increase in state-provided social expenditure in East Asian countries, the welfare systems of these countries were, paradoxically, established by conservative governments with anti-welfare ideologies (Aspalter 2002). The Korean case is no exception, with social policy being regarded primarily as a highly effective policy instrument for stimulating economic growth during the country’s rapid process of industrialization.
Ever since the financial crisis of 1997–1998, unemployment and poverty have emerged as important social and political issues in Korea. Accordingly, the welfare system has rapidly developed and social spending has dramatically increased since the late 1990s. Owing to the fact...
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