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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article integrates East Asia into the larger welfare state canon and situates the analysis in terms of common global challenges. Explaining East Asia's ‘exceptionalism’ resulted in a first wave of comparative social policy analysis of the region during the 1990s. Three complementary explanations emerged: Confucian values, the absence of leftist power resources, and the primacy of productivism. These perspectives offer insight into the uniqueness of the East Asian experience in social policy development. The social policy development in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan is described. The article determines the political economic mechanisms which led to certain social policy decisions and outcomes. Income inequality in Hong Kong, Singapore, and China was much higher than in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan during the 1990s and 2000s. The social protection has been individualized through incentivized private savings in the first three countries.

Keywords: Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, social policy, income, social protection

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