Democratization, post-industrialization, and East Asian welfare capitalism: The politics of welfare state reform in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan

Timo Fleckenstein, Soohyun Christine Lee

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Abstract

This review article provides an overview of the scholarship on the establishment and reform of East Asian welfare capitalism. The developmental welfare state theory and the related productivist welfare regime approach have dominated the study of welfare states in the region. This essay, however, shows that a growing body of research challenges the dominant literature. We identify two key driving factors of welfare reform in East Asia, namely democratization and post-industrialization; and discuss how these two drivers have undermined the political and functional underpinnings of the post-war equilibrium of the East Asian welfare/production regime. Its unfolding transformation and the new politics of social policy in the region challenge the notion of “East Asian exceptionalism”, and we suggest that recent welfare reforms call for a better integration of the region into the literature of advanced political economies to allow for cross-fertilization between Eastern and Western literatures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of International and Comparative Social Policy
Early online date8 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Feb 2017

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