Abstracts & Papers in Stream 4

EADP: Welfare-Work Nexus Project

Globalization and its socio-economic effects on nation-states have brought the importance of understanding welfare and employment as part of integrated issues. Recently, a central debate on Western welfare regimes has been to examine how each country has sought a way to link social welfare and labor market policies to deal with the negative effects of globalization. The debates on the Asian welfare policies have also examined the impacts of globalization on Asian welfare regimes. However, the lack of comparable dataset on recent economic and social policies in Asian countries has been a major obstacle to understand the conditions and outcomes of such welfare regimes. In this project, we seek to build a dataset on social welfare and labor market policies of East Asian countries (Korean, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and China), which can be eventually incorporated with existing dataset on Western countries. The key goal of the present dataset is to build comparative indicators of on how economic policies and welfare policies interact with each other in East Asian countries, which can promote divergence of different welfare regimes in these countries. We will collect the data on separate social welfare and labor market programs, but will focus on how each government seeks to link both domains of policies (hence, welfare-work nexus) as a way to deal with current socio-economic problems that can be common and divergent among the countries. In particular, the following will be the key contents of the dataset: labor market statistics; key social welfare programs (work injury, health, pension, and unemployment); labor market programs; expenditures on social welfare and labor market programs. Thus, the dataset will consist of two parts: contents of formal programs (labor market and social welfare) and actual expenditures for each type. We will present South Korea as an example of the dataset, and we will discuss the final direction of the dataset and related key indicators.

Since the 1990s pension reforms have been one of the major welfare reforms in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. A conspicuous phenomenon among the reform endeavours has been the introduction of individual accounts as a major pillar of old-age security (HK), or as a supplement to the existing pension schemes (China, Taiwan). Whereas China and Taiwan successively established individual accounts on top of the mandatory pension insurance schemes, Hong Kong mainly engaged itself with the establishment of the Mandatory Provident Funds in 2000. The three cases demonstrate a similar trend towards privatization while employing rather distinctive forms and strategies in response to the looming challenges of population ageing and financial strains in public pension schemes. This article seeks to adopt the theoretical insight of the much-discussed political economy approach, Varieties of Capitalism (VoC), which emphasizes the institutional complementarities between production regime and welfare regime to account for the outcomes of pension privatization in the three cases. Based on the research literature, government documents, and statistical comparisons, this article intends to trace the political and economic rationales behind pension privatization. My major argument is that, despite the similar motivation toward privatization, the way in which individual accounts are established in the three Chinese societies has much to do with their respective models of industrial development. In China's case, the transition from socialism to market economy is mainly achieved through the reform of state-owned enterprises and the attraction of foreign direct investments. To achieve this goal, the Chinese pension reforms concentrated on the combination of social pooling and individual accounts. Taiwan's economy is famous for her high proportion of medium- and small-sized enterprises as the main propeller. Individual accounts have been introduced on top of the Labour Insurance in order to accommodate this feature, i.e. alleviating enterprises' financial burden while increasing labour force mobilization. Hong Kong's economic development is driven by its service industry in favour of financial capitalization and market fluidity, leading to her choice of mandatory provident funds as the major pension scheme for the workers.


Rethinking Old Age Income Security for All in Taiwan

The framework of Old Age Income Security in Taiwan was completed, though remaining fragmented, with implementation of National Pension Act since October, 2008. All citizens are covered but unequally along side with several separated occupational and allowance schemes, namely Act of Insurance for Military Personnel, Government Employee and School Staff Insurance (GESSI), Labor Insurance and New Labor Pension System, as well as Old-Age Farmers Welfare Allowance Program stood alone as non-contributory one. Social elements of institutional logic, such as insurance, assistance and allowance, are unevenly conflated and confused together after a long contested journey of political process. Rather than endorsed with advocates of 'universal integration insurance program' and their 'policy failure' criticisms, this article intends to curb mainstream argument for contributory insurance system and proposes a new division of citizen responsibilities as well as governance role of the state to build up a multi-layered old age income security for all.

 

Full paper: Chih-Lung Huang_2010.pdf

Under the official policy of 'socializing social welfare (shehui fuli shehuihua)' since the late 1990s, Chinese non-state welfare organizations or welfare NPOs are encouraged to produce welfare services to form a new cooperative welfare framework with the state. As pioneers, non-state care homes for urban elders have grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade to meet the increasing demands from the ageing population. These agencies normally register as non-state nonprofit enterprises (minban feiyingli danwei) and operate under a dual-management system tightly supervised by the state authorities. Nowadays, they have become the major service providers, offering over 80% of total residential beds for urban elders. Therefore, a study into whether such growth of non-state welfare organizations is a step forward towards welfare socialization is a matter of public interest. It also has implications for the research of government-agency relationship in a transitional welfare economy.

Shanghai has the oldest population profile in the country. The growing pool of seniors creates a large market for residential care. The municipality has actively engaged in institution building to promote welfare NPOs so that they can take on the brunt of delivering care. This paper discusses the institutional change in the area of elder care of Shanghai since the beginning of this decade. Using examples of old age homes in Shanghai as case studies, this paper also evaluates the impact of the institutional change on the evolution of welfare NPOs. It argues that the state indeed has strengthened its role in welfare planning, financing and provision through formal and informal institutional arrangement. Simultaneously, welfare NPOs are treated as agents of the government, to be regulated and incorporated under a system of state dominance. Therefore, it is questionable that the expansion of non-state welfare organizations means the success in the socialization policy of welfare. Rather, at the present stage, the authority of the state is well accepted and the state dominance looks set to become a long term feature of the new welfare economy in China.

Full paper: Linda_Wong_2010_Mending the Chinese Welfare Net.pdf