In the field of the comparative study of welfare states, East Asian countries are often called 'late-coming welfare states' as compared to 'welfare states' in Western countries. However, when we take a close look at the current studies on East Asian countries, almost none of them adopt approaches that consider the issue of 'late-coming' in terms of social science. Many of the methodological limitations in today's welfare-state studies on East Asia are considered to originate in this overlooking of 'late-coming'.
Since the late 1990s, an increasing number of researchers have been showing interest in East Asian welfare states. Amid this trend, various arguments have been made in an attempt to identify the characteristics of East Asian countries, using such terms as 'productive welfare capitalisms', 'developmental welfare states', and 'hybrid welfare regimes'. While these arguments mainly adopt type-oriented approaches based on the welfare regime theory advanced by Esping-Anderson, many of these approaches do not include a time-based viewpoint such as 'late-coming'. Even when they do pay attention to the issue of late-coming, they easily lapse into a value-judging attitude of evaluating these countries solely in terms of 'welfare state leader or welfare state laggard' and 'developed or underdeveloped." Accordingly, most of these arguments end up merely explaining the underdeveloped nature of East Asian welfare states and the probable reasons for it from the viewpoint of the regional and cultural peculiarities of 'East Asia'. The above-mentioned arguments on the productive welfare capitalisms argument and the developmental welfare states argument are typical examples. In other hand, If one disregards the issue of late-coming and focuses just on the superficial characteristics of current social security systems to apply comparative analysis in the same manner as in the case of Western countries--as typically shown in the case of the hybrid welfare regimes argument, it only results in identifying East Asian countries ambiguously as 'hybrid types'. In other words, critical limitations in today's welfare state studies on East Asia are evidently shown in the particular 'awkwardness' in handling this area with the type-oriented approach.
Against this background, this paper explores the possibility of a stage-oriented approach incorporating a time-based viewpoint as a method contrasting the type-oriented approach. For this purpose, the study first proves the methodological limitations of the type-oriented approach applied to a comparative study of welfare states in the East Asia, and presents the stage-oriented approach as a new viewpoint to overcome the limitations of the type-oriented approach. Second, this paper considers the theoretical implications of the stage-oriented approach not only for the late-coming welfare states of East Asia, but also for an overall comparative study of welfare states, including early starters in Western countries. Finally, based on these procedures and from the viewpoint of integrating both type-oriented and stage-oriented approaches, the paper searches for the possibility of a reinterpretation of welfare regime theory by Esping-Anderson, which is the mainstream of today's comparative study of welfare states.
KIM, Sung-won, Assistant Professor (Tokyo Keizai University, Department of Economics)
A post-Orientalist approach to the East Asian social policy studies
In the field of comparative study of East Asian social policies by the end of the twentieth century, the influence of the welfare Orientalism had been very strong: Swedocentrism, Eurocentrism, and ethnocentrism. Through the prisms of it, East Asian countries were seen as non-welfare states, or less-developed welfare states, as a unified world that was completely different from the Europe, and as a world that was dominated by common ideology such as Confucianism.
However, the situation changed considerably at the end of the twentieth century. First, Korea and Taiwan expanded social policy and took off for welfare states. As a result, we can compare the welfare regimes of East Asia that are at the similar stages of welfare-state development. Second, China emerged in the global capitalism and is becoming the world's second largest economy. We should not think of China as the previous communist-type system of social policy but as the market economy-type system of social policy. Third, there has been an East Asian regionalism. Economic independence in this region has increased and been leading to the concept of East Asian Community.
Because of these changes, East Asian social policy studies should enter a new era. First, we should adopt the theory of stages, in addition to the theory of patterns proposed by Esping-Andersen. Second, we should build the theory that can explain consistently the change of China. The theory of stages such as the "flying geese" model is not enough to explain Chinese's change. Third, a perspective on regionalism becomes necessary in the field of social policy. We should begin to investigate a social dimensions of East Asian regionalism and to think of Common Social Policy in East Asia.
The 'East Asian Path' of the Development of Health Policies: a Comparative Study of Japan, South Korea and China
In the world of economics, the remarkable development of East Asia, featured by the strong government interventions, and export-oriented strategy, has fundamentally challenged the existed paradigm of economics. And since the late 1990s, social policies of this region have attracted increasing scholars from various fields of social science. Yet till today there isn't consensus to the core characteristics of EASP. One reason is the incongruence of detailed case studies which focus on one country or specific scheme, and general theories which are often formulated by ideology.
This paper adopts the cross-era historical analysis to compare the development process and structures of health protection systems in three main Northeast Asian countries, Japan, South Korea and China. Through the in-depth examination, this paper insists that there are distinctive 'East Asian Path' in the development of health policies. The main elements of the 'East Asian Path' are social insurance bias, universal coverage as the main objective, large presence of regional insurance, and heavy dependence on government subsidies. These characteristics imply that the main theme of social policies of East Asia is the protection for non-employees and maintenance of social stability during the unusually high mobilization era, not just improve products.
Unlike who argues for the East Asian Welfare Model, this paper does not insist that these countries are belongs to one model. 'Path' means they share similar features in historical experiences. These similarities did not result from a common ideology or a shared objective. It was an inevitable result of 'late-coming', rapid industrialization of these countries. The particular factors which restricted the choice of governments, and the reasons why these countries had to choose the similar method to correspond social problems, will be discussed in the paper.
Productivist informal welfare regimes to formal welfare state regimes: Cases of South Korea
There has been an increase in the number of comparative academic studies on East Asian welfare regimes since the 1990s, many of which have adopted Esping-Andersen's welfare state regime framework. One of the influential arguments is 'productivist welfare regimes' or 'developmental welfare states'. Although this argument has made significant contributions, it has been criticised due to several theoretical and empirical drawbacks. It is argued that this argument has a limitation to explain the recent dynamic changes in welfare regimes in East Asia and that it has not been empirically tested in a rigorous manner. Against this background, this paper aims to establish a new framework that will allow researchers to carry out systematic comparison of different welfare state regimes and the changes of a specific welfare regime and also aims to test the South Korean case using this framework. The first part of the article provides a critical analysis of existing arguments and explains why they are unsatisfactory. The second part proposes a new framework, and the third section demonstrates how the Korean welfare regime has changed its characteristics since the 1990s using the fuzzy-set ideal type analysis. This study argues that the Korean case has moved out of productivist and informal security welfare regime and is shifting towards formal welfare state regime.
Young Jun Choi and Geun Hye Park