The East Asian welfare regime: reality or fiction

TitleThe East Asian welfare regime: reality or fiction
Publication TypeWorking Paper
AuthorsKuypers, S.
PublisherHerman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp
Place PublishedAntwerp
Year of Publication2014
NumberWP 14/04
Date Published06/2014

Recently the debate on the existence of a homogeneous East Asian welfare regime gained prominence because the region is experiencing changes in the fundamentals of its welfare system. Although the majority of the literature builds upon the assumption that there is indeed a fourth welfare type in the region, few empirically investigate whether these countries could formally be regarded as actual ‘Confucian’, ‘productivist’ or ‘developmental’ welfare states. In a detailed, but yet encompassing, analysis this paper investigates first and foremost if the East Asian countries are in fact welfare states and secondly to what extent these countries constitute one homogeneous fourth welfare type, differing from the traditional and other emerging welfare regimes. In order to study the latter a fuzzy set ideal type analysis is carried out. The paper demonstrates that the presence of welfare characteristics in the region cannot be denied. The term ‘welfare state’, however, appears to be too strong because the state itself is responsible for very little welfare creation. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the dissimilarities within the East Asian region are minor compared to the differences with respect to the traditional and other emerging welfare regimes. Therefore, this paper pleads in favor of the existence of one overarching East Asian welfare regime.

KeywordsConfucianism, East Asia, Fuzzy set ideal type analysis, productivism, social and economic policy, welfare states
Citation Key4382
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