The Korean Social Welfare System Issues in the New Context of Development
The welfare state issue has captured great interest in the field of political economics from a number of developed countries ever since the Second World War. The characteristics of welfare systems and welfare policies and the role of the welfare state in economic development are among the issues of most concern. The literature has categorised welfare states into three models - liberal, conservative, and social democratic regimes - following Gosta Esping-Andersen’s concept (Esping-Andersen, 1990). Recently, research works on East Asian social welfare have however, considered East Asia as a particular regime differing from the three
above models, which Holliday (2000) named as a “productivist” regime. Being an East Asian country, over the past few de ades, Korean social welfare has had a number of “productivist” characteristics. However, after the Asian financial crisis in 1997, Korea experienced a significant reform in its welfare system (Kim, 2006). What are the factors that forced the Korean welfare system to reform? What are the distinguishing characteristics of the Korean welfare system? What are the challenges facing Korea regarding the improvement of the welfare system in order to fit in with the new development context? These are the questions that this paper would like to explore and to develop some possible answers.