Abstracts & Papers in Stream 1

We prolong a comparative research about the Korean and Mexican welfare regimes. Mexico has reinforced the dualized character of its regime, with the construction of new institutions that serve to further embed the segmentation and stratification of the social security and social protection system, especially in health (new program to poor people) and pensions (non-contributory), and with the privatization of some aspects of the social security (contributory pensions with individual accounts). South Korea regime has been abandoning a residual system and can be placed in new characteristics: the institutionalization of universalism (health and pensions) and social rights (poverty), linked to limited markets and governed by public action (health), with declining familialization (but still socially strong), South Korea is clearly a hybrid case.
In this paper, we will analyze the relationship of welfare regimes and social actors. In particular, we will discuss the impacts of the democratization and the social coalitions in the two cases. We will take in account the institutional transformation in health, pensions and poverty from the 80's until recently. In one hand, in what extent the most important Korean and Mexico social coalitions, important foundations of the welfare regimes, influence these institutional transformations? And, in the other hand, in what extent the welfare modifications influence in the strength or deterioration of the social coalitions, or in the generation of new social coalitions?
The term of office of Donald Y. K. Tsang, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, will end in July 2012.  Over the past six years, the government's planning and implementation of social policies have received heavy criticisms from both the political parties and the public.  This has been particularly overwhelming after the release of the 2011/12 budget which angered the public heavily.  The public accused the government for being too passive and irresponsible to take care of the disadvantaged groups.  The social assistance measures introduced by the government are being seen popularly as short-term, piecemeal and unsustainable.  The Hong Kong government's financial reserve in December stood at close to HK$580 billion. It has had seven years of surplus in a row - an increase of more than HK$300 billion from the record low level of 2003-04.  To a certain extent, saving money is a prudent strategy and can keep the government finance healthy, but people suspect the government is not willing to commit itself into the long-term wellbeing of the population.  With such a large amount of monetary reserve, the government still refuses to launch some sustainable policies like a universal pension plan for the ageing population, and conduct structural reforms to the social welfare system.  This paper will give a comprehensive review of the development of social policy in Hong Kong in the past six years under the Tsang administration. Main topics to be covered in this paper are social security, elderly care and housing.  A particular focus will be put on the recent 2011/12 budget as a case study to study the Hong Kong government's mentality in planning and implementing social policy.

An interesting question in the discussion of welfare regime lies: which population group is the emphasis of welfare state? Widely recognized as productivist model, traditional East Asian welfare regime put expenditure of labour group, linked with human capital investment, as policy priority to maintain "produtivity". However, confronted with speeding ageing in this region, whether this expenditure logic sustain?

Based on this research question, a new approach of intergenerational cleavage, with Elderly/Non-elderly Spending Ratio(ENSR) adopted unprecedentedly as core indicator, is developed to evaluate East Asian welfare regime transformation. The assumptions lie: if the welfare expenditure is focusing on investment population group ( labour and children), productivist regime remains; Otherwise, I would claim that East Asian has stepped into post-productivist era.

Research results suggest: 1) East Asian welfare regime expands its coverage of social security system from class-specific occupations to the extended redistributive system; 2) Regime development deeply involves in the population discourse; 3) Imbalanced regional development is profoundly presented:  compared with Japan and Taiwan, which enter the post-productivist welfare regime, China and Malaysia still maintain the characteristic of welfare policy producvist. Further study of social security budget demonstrates that South Korea has transformed to post-productivist welfare regime to some extent.

The determinants for regional cleavage can be categorized into economic modernization, political democratization and aging. 1) Rapid economic growth enables resources allocation extending to non-productivity population. 2) Grey power significantly takes efforts. As bargaining chip to attract middle votes, political parties complete to provide greater benefits to old people. 3) Traditional East Asian welfare regime was 'reluctant' to respond to aging pressure, however, it is 'forced' to change the policy direction, as well as the whole regime.

Full paper download: 4.1.1 Xiaofang Wu.pdf