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Explaining Welfare State Adaptation in East Asia: The Cases of Japan, Korea and Taiwan

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Abstract A growing volume of literature suggests that the countries in North-east Asia are defying the productivist logic that has underpinned their welfare state regime. This article aims to unfold the developmental trajectory of welfare states in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. By combining structural accounts and political explanations of social policy reform, it discusses continuity and changes in the role of social policy over a stretched period of time. It then argues that although there has been significant change made to social policy in the region, structural conditions and the politics of expansion associated with them are yet to amount to a shift in the core foundation of their welfare production logic. The market-conforming role of social policy in East Asia has been persistent and, paradoxically, this explains their resilience against the forces of economic liberalisation.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Sydney


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