1. Introduction



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The Basic Distinction between Actor-based and Structural Theories


Actor-based (conflict) theories

Structural (functional) theories

Examples:
M. Olson (1965, 1982)

Downs (1968)

Piven & Cloward (1971)

Rimlinger (1971)

George (1973)

Janowitz (1978)

Stephens (1979)

Castles (1982, 1985)

Korpi (1983)

Ferrera (1984, 1993)

Esping-Andersen (1985, 1990)

Baldwin (1990)

Budge & Keman (1990)

Immergut (1992, 1998)

Skocpol (1992)

Kerbergen (1994, 1995)

P. Pierson (1995)

Wolderndorp et al. (1998)

Lavallette & Mooney (1999)

O’Brian (2000)

Taylor-Gooby (2001)

Aspalter (2001a,b, 2002a,b)

Kim & Ahn (2003)

Ahn & Olsson Hort (2003)

Allen & Scruggs (2004)


Examples:
Heiman (1980, [1929])

T.H. Marshall (1950, 1964)

Polanyi (1957)

Wilensky & Lebeaux (1965, [1958])

Kerr et al. (1960)

Miliband (1969, 1991)

O’Connor (1973)

Wilensky (1975)

Collier & Messick (1975)

Ginsburgh (1979)

Gough (1979)

Mishra (1981, 1984, 1999)

Offe (1972, 1984)

Dahrendorf (1985)

Habermas (1989)

C. Jones (1990, 1993)

Rieger & Leibfried (2003)


In comparative social policy, there are several approaches and perspectives that may be distinguished from each other. The range of theories is wide, integrating economic, political, cultural, and gender-based theories of classification.


Why is it so important to identify and classify welfare regimes? For one, it facilitates the business of theorizing (explaining) welfare developments, be they in the past, in the present, or the near future. It proofs be a vital ground for testing general welfare state theories. Besides the identification of underlying factors and determinants, international comparative studies serve as a tool to also understand domestic developments and issues from a different, more objective – and hence scientific – angle.
In the face of the numerous possible determinants and impact factors that have been identified in the past, the business of welfare state comparison is vital to sort out the more important from the a bit less important factors, to sort out short-term from long-term determinants, to establish a hierarchy/a structure of causal relationships, and to identify the permanent interplay of different causes and underlying or side factors.

In Table 3, four possible approaches in the tradition of “explanatory” comparative welfare theory have been depicted. Among them are three more familiar ones, focusing on the cultural argument, the political economy argument, and the socio-political/institutional argument.

Table 3: Explanatory theories in Comparative Social Policy:

A focus on cultural, political and economic approaches


Structural theories

Actor-based theories

Theories that focus on


economic and political determinants
representatives:

Wilensky & Lebeaux (1965, [1958]), Wilensky (1975), Wilensky & Turner (1987), Deyo (1989, 1992),


Mishra (1990), Gough (2000), Holliday (2000), Ebbinghaus & Manow (2001)
Haggard & Kaufmann (2004)

Theories with a focus on

socio-political & institutional determinants
representatives:

Esping-Andersen (1987a, 1990, 1998), Kersbergen & Becker (1988), Mishra (1990), Immergut (1992, 1998),

Kersbergen (1994, 1995), Palier & Bonoli (1995),
Huber & Stephens (2001), Aspalter (2001a,b, 2002a,b)

Theories with a focus on

cultural determinants
representatives:
Catherine Jones (1990, 1993, 1999),
Rieger & Leibfried, (2003)


Theories that focus on both political

and cultural determinants
first theories by:
Max Weber (1991, 1994),1 Almond & Verba (1963),

Verba et al. (1987), Ellis et al. (1990),

Rueschemeyer et al. (1998)*


Notes: * These theorists did not conduct comparative social policy – yet, their theoretical approach and comparative analyses may provide vital impetus for current research in comparative social welfare policy.

The fourth group represents an amalgam of both the socio-political/institutional and the cultural argument. This group integrates these two streams to the same extent, hence putting forward a new independent, and yet again more sophisticated, theoretical argument that may explain more case studies in greater depth, more historic and current developments, and more deviations – in particular with regard to welfare regimes.


The usefulness of this new argument has been, in brief, confirmed (cf below) in the case of:


  1. the similarity of France in comparison to its immediate Continental European neighbors,

  2. the similarity of Canada in comparison to other Anglo-Saxon countries in the Commonwealth that have a strong Labour Party, and

  3. the differences between the conservative-led welfare regimes of East Asia and that of the United States.


3. Country Studies
3.1. Sketching Welfare Development in Taiwan
The starting point for and the logic behind the construction of the Taiwanese social security system again sets the case of Taiwan, to some extent, apart from its Northeast Asian neighbors. In Taiwan, the slow process of implementing labor insurance set off in 1950 was prompted by the defeat of the Kuomintang on the Mainland by the Communists, and the launching of a labor insurance program as early as in 1948 in, at that time, Communist-controlled Manchuria and, then, in all of Mainland China (Chow and Aspalter, 2003).
Legitimacy problems and the continuous attempt to pacify labor unions stood at the center of the government’s motivation to introduce new welfare programs, and to extend coverage of the existing labor insurance. There were no Communists – or left-wing parties – in Taiwan during the authoritarian rule of the Kuomintang, from 1945 to 1987. However, there were significant oppositional forces from the very beginning, as independent candidates were allowed to join local government elections as early as 1951.
Most locals regarded the Kuomintang regime to be alien to Taiwanese soil, as almost all government officials and high-ranking military officers, at that time, were born in Mainland China. The rise of powerful political forces in the mid-1970s that later culminated in the formation of the Democratic Progressive Party pushed the Kuomintang regime, to speed up social reform and further extend the coverage of social security systems.
In doing so, the KMT had to incorporate workers and farmers in what was, in fact, a comfortable welfare state system, which however until the mid-1980s only catered to certain privileged groups that were needed to support the Kuomintang regime – above all government employees, military personnel, and private school teachers and employees (Aspalter, 2002b; Ku, 1997; H. Chan, 1985).
Beginning with the year 1980, the government started to address social welfare problems more seriously, at it enacted a series of new welfare laws and programs, starting with the introduction of a new social assistance scheme of that year.
With the lift of Martial Law and the onset of democracy, the conservative Kuomintang regime needed, for the first time, to compete for votes on national, provincial, county and city level. It is largely for this reason that in 1987 Premier Yu Kuo-Hua announced the plan to introduce a national health insurance system by the year 2000. Due to heightened political pressure – with the rise of powerful social welfare movements and opposition parties – a national health insurance was enacted much earlier, in 1994, and went into operation in March of the following year. The Farmers Health Insurance Law was set up in 1989, and in 1990 and 1991 special health insurance schemes were established to cater to low-income families and the handicapped (Chan and Yang, 2001).
In the present day, the Taiwanese welfare state is in effect, to a great extent, universal – with regard to National Health Insurance (introduced in 1995), and universal old-age allowances for all citizens aged 65 and above. In recent years, the government repeatedly promised and, then again, delayed the introduction of a national pension scheme. Decision makers tend, for the time being, to favor a balance between a funded and a non-funded scheme in setting up the design for a national pension scheme, the timing of its introduction and the institutional design are still uncertain.
3.2. Sketching Welfare Development in Korea
The development of the welfare state in South Korea only took off in the early 1960s, and was continued to be rather incremental for another two and a half decades. The first social security schemes that have been implemented were the Civil Service Pension of 1960 and the Military Personnel Pension Scheme of 1962, followed by the introduction of the Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance in 1964, and the beginning of the Livelihood Assistance Scheme and experimental health insurance schemes in 1965. The timing of this new wave of social security programs was not accidental.
A military coup d’état put an abrupt end to the first democratic government that lasted less than a year, from August 1960 to May 1961. For two and a half years, the country was ruled by a military junta, only to be replaced by another authoritarian regime, under the President Park Chung-Hee. The lack of legitimacy and support for the new governing elite represented the key motive behind the formation and extension of social security and welfare programs in the long period of authoritarian rule from 1961 to 1987 (H. Kwon, 1998; Aspalter, 2001a).
Only with the onset of formal democracy, welfare state development shifted gear and a series of vital extensions of the social security system took place. The logic of the formation of Korea’s welfare state system may resemble a great deal that of its neighbors Japan and Taiwan, yet when looking closer, apparent differences become visible – one point in concern is company welfare provision.
The industrial landscape of both Japan and Korea is dominated by large corporations – in Taiwan small companies are dominant – while industrial relations are largely communitarian (based on harmony and integration) in Japan, they are relatively patriarchal and authoritarian in Korea (cf S. Chan, 2002), which is reflected in the great level of industrial strikes and the outbursts of violence in industrial disputes in Korea.
Korean Labor unions are strong, but their activities do not yet have a decisive effect on employment security, wages, working hours, and welfare provision of ordinary workers and employees. Therefore the institutional set-up of the Korean welfare state differs significantly from that of Japan, with regard to the importance of company welfare in particular, and public welfare provision in general. Public and private sectors in Korea spend 10 and 1 percent of GDP respectively on social welfare (cf Holliday, 2000).
Korea’s welfare state system has been universalized to some extent in the last one and a half decades, but is far from being a universal welfare state that grants social rights based on citizenships. Public assistance continues to be means-tested and highly stigmatized.
The pensions system is not unified yet, since there are still four different schemes existing: (1) for government employees, (2) military personnel, (3) private school teachers and employees, and (4) the rest of the population. In addition, up to one third of the urban workforce is not covered or evade the coverage of the system.
Although universal coverage was introduced for the National Health Insurance, it still does not provide adequate protection against income loss from illness. As of today, the health service system, in essence, constitutes a “market-oriented, private-sector dominated, fee-for-service payment system” (Kim and Lee, 2004; S. Kwon, 2003; Yang, 2002: 64).

3.3. Sketching Welfare Development in Hong Kong
Hong Kong certainly stands out a bit from the other two East Asian welfare state systems examined above. From 1945 to 1997, Hong Kong was under British Colonial rule – hence, some features of the welfare state system we find in Hong Kong resemble quite a bit that of its former mother country, the United Kingdom. An obvious point in concern is the emphasis on – rather redistributive and, hence, expenditure heavy – means-tested, and quite generous, social assistance schemes, which still form a core column of the Hong Kong welfare state system.
In addition, health care is funded to a large extent out of government revenue, providing each citizen with a comfortable safety net. Health care in Hong Kong is very affordable, as fees for services provided are kept very low. In terms of safety provided, the health care system in Hong Kong matches to a large extent the National Health Service of the United Kingdom.
A key factor for development of a welfare state in Hong Kong was waves of massive migration from Mainland China into Hong Kong after World War II, and this by the millions. The desperate situation of new arrivals led to the engagement of foreign charities and NGOs in Hong Kong, which led to the development of a strong local NGO sector by the end of the 1960s. Another important factor was the fear of the government, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that the Cultural Revolution could sweep into Hong Kong, and that Communist forces would gain considerable strength in the territory. As a result, in 1971, the government of Hong Kong started to act and, subsequently, launched a series of new social welfare policies, putting social welfare provision high up on its agenda (Chow, 1980).
Rather than providing social services itself, which would have been much more costly, the government decided to set up a long-term partnership with the new local NGO sector – which then took over the main responsibility of providing of social services, while receiving most of its funding from the government. Today, nearly 90 percent of voluntary welfare agencies are completely dependent on governmental financial support from the government. The special partnership between the NGO sector and the government in social service provision has become a particular feature of the Hong Kong welfare state. The new social service system was designed “to prevent social tensions from building up” (Aspalter, 2002c; R. Chan, 2002: 88).
Two other major columns of the newly erected welfare state system were public housing and public funding of educational institutions. Public housing programs formed the mainstay for social integration of new arrivals from Mainland, as well as poor segments of society. The government of Hong Kong was very active in social investment as it was seen to be economically productive. Social investment aimed at supporting economic development by increasing the human capital of the workforce, as well as avoiding social tension and friction, or worse. Hence, seen from this perspective, social development was also an integral part of economic strategy of the state, rather than a subordinate, second-rank objective that stood for itself.
The introduction of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) in December 2000 brought Hong Kong, again closer to the East Asian welfare regime, as social security is upgraded to serve the majority of the population while, from now on, being tightly connected to employment and income of the workforce. The MPF is not administered by the state, the state merely supervises and regulates investment funds of the MPF scheme.

3.4. Overview of Country Developments and Determinants
Both Korea and Taiwan are relatively young democracies, both having introduced formal democracy in the same year, 1987. Hong Kong only partly introduced democracy, as its executive branch of government is not yet elected by the people at large. The level of economic development in all three cases match each other. Korea and Hong Kong have strong socio-economic division, i.e. a strong class-divided society. Taiwan on the other hand has a more even income distribution and ownership structure (with regard to both housing and enterprise ownership).
Public housing caters to about half of the population in Hong Kong, whereas in Taiwan and Korea housing is largely provided and financed privately. The education system is largely provided by the state in Hong Kong (especially tertiary education), while both in Korea and Taiwan, education is largely provided by private institutions, but nevertheless heavily controlled by the state. Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan have different forms of universal health care systems. The state invests greatly in, and/or regulates heavily social investment – that is, particularly education, health care, and – in the case of Hong Kong also – housing.
Past studies have shown that increased activity and success in social welfare policy is clearly associated with a strong degree of party competition in democratic elections (cf Aspalter, 2001c, 2002b), as well as pressure stemming from increasingly active social movements and pressure groups (H. Kwon, 1999; Hsiao, 1991, 2001; R. Chan, 1996; Chow, 1980; Aspalter, 2002c; Peng, 2002).
Kim and Ahn (2003), examining the case of Korea, also pointed to the crucial importance of welfare-political alliances in the making and shaping of social welfare policies. Ku Yeun-Wen summarized the common trend of democratization across East Asia and its effect on the welfare state, in his study on Taiwan (2002: 165):
“we find a very significant expansion of state welfare along with democratization in the 1990s, which has totally changed the state structure in favor of social policy making.”
It is for these reasons that political determinants form the so-called driving motor in welfare state construction and development. Yet, other additional forces are to be reckoned with – namely the overall cultural variables that influence the process, the extent, and the functioning of democracy itself. Such cultural macro factors include e.g. a common preference of hierarchy, rule of law, believe in and submission to public order, adherence to traditionalism and family values, and so on.


4. Bringing Welfare State Theories Back In
4.1. From the Political Argument to the Political-Cultural Argument
The main argument of the political/institutional school may be summarized with the words of Peter Taylor-Gooby (2001: 3) as follows:
“alongside the external and internal pressures, and the different opportunities and obstacles provided by the various welfare state regimes, the institutional and constitutional apparatus within which policy-making takes place varies between countries and these differences must also be taken into account. Welfare state policies, are in the first2 instance, the direct result of decisions made by political actors. Political decisions can only be understood as the result of political processes. Those political processes are currently becoming more complex and less transparent, as governments and political parties face the task of restructuring welfare provision to meet altered circumstances and the seek to escape blame for retrenchment.”
Researchers in Europe and the United States have shown in their quantitative studies (Budge and Keman, 1990; Woldendorp et al., 1998; Allan, 2002; Allan and Scruggs, 2004) that the length of party rule and the nature of political parties in government – as exemplified in their party programs – are vital for the overall conception and design of the welfare state as a whole and social welfare policies in particular.
Woldendorp et al. (1998) found that conservative parties are least likely to set up, and to invest in, welfare state programs, followed by parties of the liberal political family. Christian Democratic parties are in fact strong promoters of social welfare policies – Edmund Stoiber e.g. of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria even represents himself as the defender of the welfare state against the social democratic government of Gerhard Schröder (cf also Kersbergen, 1994, 1995, Aspalter 2001b). Social democratic governments are the ones that bring about extensive welfare state systems, with generally large levels of redistribution and a solid network of social security.
In a comparison of developed industrial countries in the East and the West, it becomes clear that why different welfare regimes are ruled predominantly by different political parties. In Table 4, we see that conservative political parties rule in East Asia, ever since 1945 (with the exception of China, of course).
In Continental Europe, it are primarily Christian democratic parties that have ruled countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Austria, and Italy – but here also a strong social democratic component has been crucial in pushing up social standards and in guaranteeing the successive extension of social rights over the postwar years. France is an exceptional case, with the rule of De Gaulle who heavily drew on the Beveridgean model of social policy, the model which he studied in detail while being in exile in London. De Gaulle also drew the support of leftist political groups and a very own labor union wing – which explains France’s exceptionalism – that is, its closeness to other neighboring countries under Christian democratic rule.
In Scandinavia, it were predominantly social democratic parties that ruled since 1945, who to a large extent cooperated with liberal (agrarian) parties, particularly in Sweden up to the late 1950s.
The liberal welfare regime, as it is dubbed, is found in Anglo-Saxon countries, with a distinct differentiation among members of this group. The US is the most conservatively ruled country, and Canada the most liberal-ruled country. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia stand out and form a distinct Labourite subgroup (Castles and Mitchell 1991; Castles and Pierson, 1996). These three countries had strong labor parties, which changed the course of welfare state developments respectively.
Table 4: Political Rule and Welfare Regimes (Years of rule of political parties from July 1, 1945 to June 30, 2005)




Conservative

Liberal

Christian Democratic

Social Democratic

East Asia
(Conservative Regime)













Japan

48.5

0

0

1.5

Korea (South)*

52.5

7.5

0

0

China (mainland)**

20

0

0

0

Hong Kong

60

0

0

0

Taiwan*

54.5

5.5

0

0

Thailand

60

0

0

0

Malaysia

60

0

0

0

Singapore

60

0

0

0

Continental Europe
(Christian Democratic Regime)













Austria

0

0

30

30

Belgium

0

0

45

15

France***

27

0

8

25

Germany

0

0

36

20

Italy

7

0

38

14

Luxemburg

0

5

55

0

The Netherlands

0

0

37

33

Scandinavia
(Social Democratic Regime)













Finland

8

22

0

29

Norway

6

6

8

40

Sweden

4

5

0

51

Anglo Saxon Countries

(Liberal Regime)















with Labour Participation













Australia

40

0

0

20

New Zealand

38

0

0

22

United Kingdom

35

0

0

25

without Labour Participation













Canada

16

44

0

0

United States

32

28

0

0

Notes: Dates for Prime Ministers holding office were used in all countries, except the US where the Presidency was used; * The governance periods of President Kim Dae-Jung and President Roh Moo-Hyun in Korea and that of President Chen Shui-Bian in Taiwan may be classified arguably both as “moderate conservative” or “liberal”. Here we have adapted the latter classification, as social welfare is indeed becoming more and more important in their overall political agenda. ** roughly since 1985, when the new reform and open policies were put into place (cf Chow and Aspalter, 2003); *** General De Gaulle was heavily influenced by the Beveridge model during his time in exile in London (Revauger, 2003), he also managed to gather substantial support from leftist groups and labor unions – hence, the French welfare model, as Palier and Bonoli (1995) have found, indeed represents some sort of mix between Bismarckian and Beveridgean welfare politics.

Sources: Aspalter (2001a,b, 2003a-c, 2005a,b), Kersbergen (1994, 1995), Woldendorp et al. (1998); Castles and Mitchell (1991); Castles and Pierson (1996).

Here, cultural determinants come into play, as we see that East Asian countries show marked differences to the conservative welfare arena of the United States. In East Asia, as in the United States, primacy in the developmental strategy of the country is given to economic development. But yet in East Asia, the state is very active, intervening heavily into the market (also in Hong Kong). In the United States the government and the ruling elites believe in and follow the doctrine of the invisible hand in economics. In East Asia, the governments, across the board, believe in a strong visible hand – that is, in control, regulation and market intervention, even full-fledged market protectionism (as in the case of Korea).


Cultural determinants also work in favor of a certain degree of proximity of welfare state institutions in different countries. This is the case in Anglo-Saxon Commonweatlh countries, particularly the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. These three countries have in the past installed rather generous poverty reduction schemes. Their prime logic of social policy is poverty reduction and needs-based social policies, favoring both flat-rate universal and means-tested/targeted schemes (cf Mitchell, 1997a,b; Aspalter 2003d). Also the case of France supports the importance of culture as a secondary, but yet crucial, factor in welfare politics. The similarity of France’s welfare regime with that of its Continental neighbors cannot be explained with politics alone, but rather in addition with the strong influence of Catholicism and Christian social values, as expressed in the form of Christian democracy in its southern and eastern neighbors (cf Aspalter, 2001b; Kersbergen, 1994, 1995).
To be sure, cultural determinants influence social policies, but his in the second instance (on the macro level). When looking at the great picture, it becomes clear that “policy structures operate within cultural frameworks which associate particular values with state, market, occupational and family welfare” (Taylor-Gooby, 2001: 13).

Figure 1: Basic Theoretical Construct Integrating both

Political and Cultural Determinants

Cultural Traditions





Political, Democratic & Corporatist Institutions






Political Ideology

Party, Election and

Policy Programs



Social Welfare Policy

Social and

Economic Factors



Democratic

Participation




Note: Arrows indicate a principal causal relationship, pointing from independent to dependant variable.


4.2. The Discussion of the East Asian Welfare Regime

The study of welfare state comparison in East Asia took off in the year 2000, when a number of studies surfaced at the same time promoting new theories, as well as new classifications.


Kwong-Leung Tang (2000: 10) concentrated his analytical efforts on the important aspect of social development in the comparative theory of welfare state research. He revealed the importance of particular common traits of East Asian welfare state systems, focusing on the nature of developmental states and their particular ideologies.
While taking the examples of the four Asian Tiger states, Tang (2000: 137) notes that these developmental states have all extensively applied government intervention and policies to promote industrialization – and that it is for this reason why these countries opted for considerable investment in social development. The various governments of these developmental states applied social policies that (a) promoted the legitimacy of the government and labor stabilization, and (b) invested a great deal in the education and the health of the workforce.
Tang – though not explicitly referring to the existence of an East Asian welfare model, or welfare regime – indicated that the common ideology of these countries is their strong believe in trickle-down theory of development (i.e., economic growth will eventually benefit all of the population) and that these countries are all marked by small governmental spending, relative flexible labor markets, and the application of social security as an instrument to target politically important interest groups (2000: 139).
In the same year, Ian Holliday (2000) proposed the existence of a “productivist” welfare regime in the mature economies of East Asia (especially Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore), where social policies are subordinated to economic policy making – that is, social policies are supported on the condition that they help to generate social peace, stability, and economic growth.
Ian Holliday, thus, supported the idea of a unique welfare regime in East Asia, which is characterized by the underlying political rationale and the economic function of social policies, rather than the institutional setup of welfare programs or their welfare outcomes. Ian Holliday’s argument has been supported and extended by Ian Gough (2000, 2002), who in a slightly different manner emphasized the focusing of social policy on education and health – “as part of a strategy of nation-building, legitimization, and productive investment.”
Following the tradition of Esping-Andersen (1985, 1990, 1997) in Europe and Theda Skocpol (1987, 1992) in the United States, Aspalter (2001a) focused on the importance of politics and state institutions. For both Tang (2000) and Aspalter (2001a, 2002a,b) the state – its political process and institutions – is considered to be the main causal explanatory dimension for welfare state development. Focusing on dominant political parties and their doctrines, state structures, and social movements – Aspalter (2001a) found that a distinct type of conservative social policy is prevalent in the East Asian region, including six countries in his historical, political study –namely Japan, China, and the four Tiger states.
For Europe, the watershed period, in comparative welfare state analysis may be from 1987 to 1990, at the time when Gosta Esping-Andersen (1987a,b, 1990) and others (e.g. Kersbergen and Becker 1988) began to take the findings of their historical analyses and transferred that particular knowledge into the realm of regime theory. Classifications of welfare state systems before had been largely descriptive, but with the connection to historical and sociopolitical studies the transition to explanatory welfare state theory and a more sophisticated work on classification of welfare state systems became possible.
Richard Titmuss (1958, 1974) set up three types of social policy – (a) the residual model, (b) the achievement/performance model, and (c) the institutional/redistributional model. These three models however were not yet integrated into the explanatory framework of welfare state theory. It may be worth to note that explanatory welfare state theories usually support either functional or evolutional3 approaches, or structural (conflict-based) approaches. But with the studies of Esping-Andersen (1987a, 1990, 1998), the transition to explanatory comparative welfare state analysis was completed.
Ian Holliday and Ian Gough, have put developmental, economic determinants at the fore of their theoretical undertaking – thus, continuing the long tradition set up by Wilensky, but also integrating more political economy factors (the developmental strategy of governments).
Both Tang (2000) and Ramesh (2000) tested several arguments arriving at different conclusions. While Tang concludes that the theories tested all carry strong explanatory value, he however found none of these to play a dominant role in causing and determining welfare state development in East Asia. Ramesh (2000), on the other hand, tested both domestic and international factors (such as the influence of IMF and World Bank), and concluded that both political and economic determinants are, by and large, responsible for developments and changes in the welfare state. Ramesh and Tang fall short of identifying an over-arching East Asian model, with Ramesh pointing at the fundamental differences in the institutional setup of welfare state system that there are in East Asia.
Aspalter (2005b) affirms the position of Catherine Jones, as well as Ian Gough and Ian Holliday,4 pertaining to their supporting the existence of a unique East Asian welfare model. While Jones (1993) puts forward the cultural argument, Gough (2000, 2002) and Holliday (2000) are developing the argument of the political-economy approach.
Here the author continues to support his former quantitative (2002b) and qualitative findings (2001a, 2002a) that suggest that political-institutional determinants carry most explanatory capacity in explaining past, present, and future welfare state developments. He, however, acknowledges fully the importance of developmental, economic, and needs-based determinants as a secondary explanatory set of determinants that help to explain smaller deviations especially in the short run, such as:


  1. the developmental status and strategy, the stage, or state of economic development, and

  2. demand-related determinants, such as the degree of aging, the health status of the population, the degree of poverty and unemployment.

Yet the author would also, and here particularly, stress the importance of culture on politics and institutions, but also on prevalent ideologies, and political as well as independent social and economic actors in determining the need for (work ethic, family ethic, neighborhood support, mutual aid, etc.) for and the supply (strategy, method, and extent) of social welfare policies and programs. The behavior of parties (cf Allan, 2002; Berchtold, 1967; Mommsen, 1964) is dependent on their party programs, which again reflect, to a large extent, common welfare ideologies (cf George and Wilding, 1994).


On top, the form and the degree of democratic participation, which build a further cornerstone of the political-cultural argument, has been identified to be the outcome of cultural parameters, beyond the impact of democratic or corporatist institutions (cf Almond and Verba, 1963; Verba et al., 1987; Ellis et al., 1990; Rueschemeyer et al., 1998).
The developmental logic of East Asian elites in fact differs a great deal from that of e.g. Europe. Like in the United States, the concept of a social market economy is not preeminent, and so are strong socialist or social democratic, or Christian democratic ideas and programs. The overall leadership of the United States yet differs from that of East Asian economies, in that the State is seen as a negative, and, apart from national defense and trade protection, should not interfere in public policy making.
In East Asia, this is a completely different story. The State here was responsible for positive economic development and social progress, and in the end – but this is not true for all countries in East Asia – the peaceful introduction of formal democracy.
The State in East Asia is expected to intervene, and people are expected to obey the state, as they see the state a natural, and necessary leader – a relationship that by and large resembles that of a child to its parents; compare e.g. the Thai people who adore and truly worship their Kings, but also the respect of the common people on the street for their local and national authorities, to be seen through all parts of East Asia.

5. Concluding Part: Quo Vadis East Asia?
When looking at the international context and the theoretical insights that have been dealt with in this study, it becomes clear that East Asia will continue to walk down its own path of development.
In fact, the increasing share and importance of universal welfare programs in East Asian countries, especially in Taiwan, Korea, but also (in different form) in Hong Kong, point at a positive future, with regard to welfare politics, the increase of solidarity and citizenship rights. In addition, it is commonly acknowledged that the economy cannot work without the proper foundations of a well-functioning society – especially healthy families, a positive gender relationship, investment in a social safety net, and last but not least investment in human resources (education, health care, social services, etc.).
The ongoing rise of democratic values and the strengthening belief in citizen power through democratic participation, participation in public discourse, lobbying and protests, will continue to spur positive developments in the realm of social welfare policy, such as the introduction of more universal programs (Aspalter, 2005b) and the rise of more anti-poverty programs and policies – such as in the case of Singapore and other countries in the region (Tang and Wong, 2003; Lee, 2004).

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