Abstracts & Papers in Session 1

Since the government of Taiwan has addressed the need to pursue excellence in quality through building world-class universities in the 2000s, it started to restructure its higher education system through the policies of role differentiation and funding concentration. This development has led to the formulation of a differentiated academic system in which a small number of higher education institutions are selected to be research-oriented, internationally-focused universities that have been assigned to pursue world-class excellence and have received a large amount of research funding. Meanwhile, the majority of the higher education sector is identified to be teaching-oriented and locally-focused, and therefore need to survive in a more competitive environment without sufficient government funding.
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the presence of educational inequality caused by the above phenomenon in Taiwan. It argues that the emergence of performativity culture and role differentiation in the internationalised and marketised environment has brought a new form of inequality in Taiwan's higher education, as many universities in lower tiers are underfunded under the current uneven pattern of funding. This means that students in these universities and their families have to bear heavier financial burden of education. This leads to reflections on the development of higher education policy after the accomplishment of massification of higher education coupled with increased privatization in relatively wealthy East Asian societies.

Self-sufficiency has been one of the longstanding moral beliefs in East Asian societies. Without relying on formal institutions, economic self-reliance has been regarded as 'most desirable' in terms of meeting individual welfare needs. Accordingly, it is not surprising that the role of informal institutions such as family and community has played a significant role in providing welfare since the pre-industrial period. In the phase of industrialization, the notion of self-sufficiency was even strengthened due to the idea of developmentalism associated with the Confucian tradition. The thesis of productivist welfare capitalism representing growth-oriented paradigm with low welfare efforts by governments (Holliday 2000) can explain the persistent importance of self-sufficiency in East Asian societies.

While it is true that self-sufficiency is still an important underlying logic, it seems that rapid socio-economic changes have brought the old concept of self-sufficiency to an end. The old concept, though hardly systematically studied, is largely based on male-breadwinner model with special attention to employment and education. In other words, the unit of self-sufficiency has been, more often than not, a family sustained by men's labor. However, a number of newly emerging factors undermines the old type of self-sufficiency; post-industrializing industrial structure, ageing, increasing women's labor market participation, destabilizing full-employment labor market with life-long employment practice, and weakening family solidarity. In this context, this paper aims to recalibrate the concept of 'self-sufficiency' in post-industrializing East Asian welfare regimes. More specifically, while self-sufficiency is without losing productive components, the paper will argue that its scope should be extended further from employment and education to five sub-concepts; employment, education, childcare, disability, and minimum livelihood. In addition to proposing a set of key indicators for self-sufficiency, it will demonstrate how useful the new concept of self-sufficiency is for understanding changing East Asian societies.

The Take-up of Social Assistance: A Survey in a Southern Taiwan City

Social assistance in considered a residual system of welfare. However, it is the last resort of many disadvantaged. Therefore, it is important to maximize the likelihood of benefit delivering to those who are in financial difficulties. One of the vital points to achieve this goal is to promote the talk-up of benefits. Despite the importance of take-up in social assistance, it is rarely studied in Taiwan.

This paper draws the data from a large-scale survey conducted in Tainan, a southern Taiwan city, to explore the take-up of social assistance. The survey was conducted in 2010, and 754 low-income households were successfully interviewed. The results show that low-income people get the information about benefits from different sources. People in different low-income categories and living in different districts receive information from different sources. In addition, people living in different districts have different levels of likelihood of receiving help in the application process. These imply the impact of social capital and administrative factors on take-up. This study also finds a widespread worry among the applicants about the complexity of the application process. This paper concludes by addressing the importance of providing information and assistance to low-income people in application process to improve the take-up of social assistance.

In April 2006, the government of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region launched the New Dawn Project (ND).  It is specifically designed as a workfare programme for single parents and child carers (mostly married women who take care of their children at home) on the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA, a social security programme for low-income households) whose youngest children are aged 12 to 14.  It aims to assist the participants to enhance their capacity for self-help, integrate into the community and move towards self-reliance through engagement in work.  These CSSA recipients are required to join the ND Project to actively seek paid employment with working hours of not less than 32 per month; otherwise a penalty of HK$200 will be enforced from the CSSA payments except for those with special circumstances, such as having health problems, or additional caring responsibilities.  By the end of August 2009, a total of 17,448 CSSA recipients had participated in the Project, and 5,203 of them (30%) had secured paid jobs.  The Social Welfare Department had commissioned The University of Hong Kong to conduct an evaluation study in 2007, and an extension study was completed in 2009.  The findings showed that the majority of the Project participants indicated that their participation in the Project had positive effect on their family income, quality of life and self-confidence.  Most of them also thought that the requirement on working hours (32 hours per month) was reasonable and most parent-child relationships were not affected.  Supplemented with the data collected from the study mentioned above, this paper will explore what considerations would the single parent CSSA recipients take in choosing to work or stay out of the job market beside the mandatory requirements imposed by the government. It will also situate the discussion within Hong Kong's special demography background, drastic economic restructuring, distortion of the labour market, and the limited protection of labour regulations and social security system. 
Although the original policy framework for the MLSS designed by the central government in mainland China had no clear-cut idea of workfare, its changing attitudes expressed in policy documents thereafter had encouraged local governments to embrace workfare measures at their discretions. Local governments have introduced a range of measures corresponding with the idea of workfare, such as "work first", training and financial incentives to require the MLSS recipients seek jobs and improve employability.
The flawed mechanisms of the MLSS, such as gap-filling style income support scheme, the attached benefits to the MLSS recipient and the neglecting of the family size's impact on living expenses may partially justify the local governments' workfare measures. But taking the subsistence level of the MLSS benefit and the unregistered employment of the recipients into consideration, the workfare measures are just a reaction to an illusion of welfare dependency.
In practice, the idea of "activation", particularly providing training and/or financial incentive measures to assist the unemployed, is lagging far behind the idea of "work first", for example, punishing those refuse to work or not showing willingness to get re-employed. With such a creeping conditionality, the MLSS has been experiencing a complex shift from a "moderate protectivist" scheme to an "aggressive productivist" one in some major cities in China.
Unlike the introduction of workfare as the reaction to the welfare dependence in other countries, the local governments' initiatives of workfare in mainland China is mostly motivated by the spending reining incentive of this general tax financed income maintenance pregame. The decentralization of social expenditure responsibility to local governments without sound fiscal transfer payment resulted in the fiscal pressure of social assistance and social welfare program. And more important, without sound accountability in local governance, the citizenship is "conditional" and unprotective.
Marketization, decentralization and socialization have been the key strategies of contemporary social welfare reforms in China. Minban (private) secondary school is one of those experiments. They provides alternative types of education, and can enjoy greater autonomous from government control. Nevertheless, in the new institutional environment characterized by controlled-decentralized governance reform coupled with increasing popularity of the market principles in its economic reform, such autonomy is not without limit. Within that boundary, the schools have to be active in constructing their strategies to defend and expand their autonomy. Based on an original in-depth analysis of eight school cases covering four major types of minban school in China, this paper explored and categorized their strategies as 'capitalization', 'advocacy', 'avoidance', and 'isolation'. The degree of autonomous obtained was very much depended on their resources, protection and support acquired from the local governments and consumers, through different strategies. This paper argued that, given the reforms for decades, the government still maintained substantial control on education and schools, through the established bureaucratic structure and successful re-penetration into the new institutional environment via new forms of governance. To certain extent, this hampered the possible contribution of the minban schools in China.
Graduate unemployment has become an issue in many East Asian countries in the last two decades. By the end of the first decade, unemployment rate among tertiary degree holders has reached between 25 to 30 percent in four major economies in the region, significantly higher the world average of 19.53% in 2007 and far more higher than the one digit rate among European countries. Popular explanations on graduate unemployment are reviewed with special attention to those on oversupply, mismatching and overeducation. By exploring the incidence of unemployment among graduates in the region from various perspectives, this paper argues that no single theory can provide satisfactory answer to the topic due to a very special political and social background in East Asian countries, which is also a factor that any policy suggestions on responding the issue will have to address.


Higher Education has been expanding rapidly in East Asian countries in the past two decades. While Japan, Korea and Taiwan entering the stage of universal higher education in late 1990s and early 2000s, China has crossed the borderline between elite and mass higher education in 2002. However, higher education expansion in the region is mainly fuelled escalating investment from private resources. The fact that an emergence of large number of private institutes and an increase of tuition fees have been widely witnessed across the region prompts concerns on if the expansion is for the interest of the disadvantaged. By investigating the new financial mechanism behind the expansion and disclosing its impacts on students from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially their access to university, this paper argues for a counterbalancing student aid system as a supplementary scheme to expansion in order to offset its negative impacts.

Full paper download: 1.3.1 Wing-Kit Chan & Xuan Wu.pdf

The discussion of welfare regimes is extensive both in western and Asian contexts, but feminists have pointed out the lack of a gender perspective and the neglect of unpaid work in the construction of welfare models, and call for the gendering of welfare regimes. The discussion of welfare regimes in Hong Kong has similarly neglected gender and care and work issues. This paper reports the findings of a qualitative study that has involved 60 single mothers on welfare, and interviews of policy analysts and service providers. The study addresses the knowledge gap by applying gender perspectives in the analysis of welfare regimes. It reveals the meaning of care, work and welfare adopted by lone mothers, and their experiences in encounters with service providers. The finding displays that lone mothers are overwhelmed by the heavy burden of caring work and the role as the only available carer in the family. The length of work time, intensity, and the lack of flexibility of caring work make the majority of lone mothers find the work demanding. By unveiling the social perception that the non-paid caring work is less demanding than paid work, and that the lone mothers should pay more efforts by taking up paid work instead, the dilemma faced by lone mothers is shown. It has, therefore, added a new perspective to policy analysis by presenting the subjective experiences and views of service users in relation to the definitions of needs and the impact of welfare on them. Women's resistance to power domination in a Chinese context in response to a welfare regime characterized by a dual-earner or an adult-worker model is documented.
East Asian societies are deeply affected by the Confucius culture. At the family perspective, the Confucius culture represents the extended family structure which the oldest sons are responsible for the parents. In addition, after marrying a man, a woman has to leave her maternal family and care for her husband's household. However, with the increase of education level and the labour participation rate of nowadays women, the traditional family structure that men get out for work and women care for the family is no longer a common scenario. Therefore, married women were expected to stay home and attend to the family, but they prefer keeping their jobs and pursuing their careers. This conflict makes it difficult for couple to step into marriage. These phenomena can be seen as the first-marriage age, the unmarried rate and the divorce rate. This paper points out that the governments should be aware of the changes of the societies, and to institute family policies for core families and single-parent families. The policies include child care, elderly care, after school activities, and paid parental leave. The policies are aiming at providing care from the society and decreasing the gap of expectation of marriage between tradition and modern.