Common Paths, Divergent Patterns: Social Protection by Other Means in Australia and Japan

This paper examines the historical trajectories of welfare state development in two of the institutional patterns identified in the literature as 'social protection by other means': Australia and Japan. Over time, the forces of economic liberalisation have undermined the institutional foundation of 'social protection by other means' in these countries. Social policy has increasingly become subsumed under economic policy and this subordinate nature of social policy to economic considerations effectively ended the Australia's wage earners' welfare state and the Japanese employment security regime. However, while both Australia and Japan have followed a similar neoliberal path in their social policy reform direction, the forms and patterns they have taken to follow are not in uniform against the forces of economic liberalisation. I argue here that Australia has undergone a process of 'diversification' in its reshaping efforts of welfare state structure. In Japan, by contrast, more conventional forms of welfare state deepening and expansion have emerged. Also, while Australia's financial commitment stayed intact, Japan increased its level of financial commitment to a great extent.  All in all, while both countries have been restructuring their welfare reforms towards more market accommodating directions, the institutional dynamics underpinning each have led to a divergent pattern in the reform of social policy.