Advertisement

Theory and Society

, 40:645 | Cite as

The logic of social policy expansion in a neoliberal context: health insurance reform in Korea after the 1997 economic crisis

  • Oh-Jung Kwon
Article

Abstract

In the aftermath of the economic crisis of the late 1990s, the Korean government reformed health insurance system to enhance social equity and solidarity. This article identifies the institutional features and political dynamics involved in completing the reform. The Korean case suggests a model of counter-movement that differs from the historical experiences of both democratic corporatist and liberal welfare states. Two institutional conditions within the politics of crisis contributed to the reform. A legacy of limited state welfare was critical in providing the impetus for reforming health insurance system. More importantly, the crisis maximized the state’s coordination capacity by mobilizing a coherent bureaucracy under the presidential authority, and by limiting interest politics. The Korean experience has important implications for the study of economic crisis and social policy response. The way in which a crisis provides new contexts for welfare and policy making institutions, rather than the institutions themselves, should be the main focus in analyzing policy responses. The focus on the political dynamics of an economic crisis helps us acknowledge the limit of ideological forces of a crisis in facilitating a particular policy response.

Keywords

Economic crisis Counter-movement Health insurance reform State capacity Korean politics 

References

  1. Campos, J. E., & Root, H. L. (1996). The Key to the Asian Miracle: Making Shared Growth Credible. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  2. Caporaso, J. & Tarrow, S. (2008). Polanyi in Brussels: European institutions and the embedding of markets in society. RECON-Online-Working Papers. 2008:1.Google Scholar
  3. Chibber, V. (2002). Bureaucratic rationality and the developmental state. American Journal of Sociology, 107(4), 951–989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cumings, B. (1998). Korea’s other miracle. The Nation, 266.Google Scholar
  5. Dion, M. (2009). Globalization, democracy, and Mexican welfare: 1988–2006. Comparative Politics, 43(1)Google Scholar
  6. Dobbin, F. (1993). The social construction of the great depression: industrial policy during the 1930s in the United States, Britain, and France. Theory and Society, 22(1), 1–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Evans, P. (1995). Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Evans, P. (2008). Is an alternative globalization possible? Politics and Society, 36(2), 271–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fourcade-Gourinchas, M., & Babb S. (2002). The rebirth of the liberal creed: Paths to Neoliberalism in four countries. American Journal of Sociology, 107(9).Google Scholar
  10. Haggard, S., & Kaufman, R. R. (2008). Development, Democracy, and Welfare States: Latin America, East Asia, and Eastern Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Hong, K.-Z., & Song, Ho-Keun. (2005). An analysis on the social policy networks: a comparison of the Kim Young-Sam government and the Kim Dae-Jung government. Korean Journal of Social Welfare, 57(4), 5–34.Google Scholar
  12. Huber, E. (2004). Globalization & social policy developments in Latin America. In M. Glatzer & D. Rueschemeyer (Eds.), Globalization and the Future of the Welfare State. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  13. International Monetary Fund. (2003). Republic of Korea: Financial System Stability Assessment. IMF Country Report No. 03/81.Google Scholar
  14. Jung, J-J. (1995). Mafia of social policy bureaucrats blocking the integration of the health insurance system. Social Critic Road. March (in Korean).Google Scholar
  15. Katzenstein, P. J. (1985). Small States in World Markets: Industrial Policy in Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Kim, K-W. (1983). The discussion of political welfare: a content analysis of presidential statements from 1962–1983. Korean Journal of Political Science, 17(1) (in Korean).Google Scholar
  17. Kim, E.-M. (1997). Big Business, Strong State. Albany: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  18. Kim, J-D. (2001a). The Third Way of Health Care Security. Hannuri Media Press (in Korean).Google Scholar
  19. Kim, Y.-M. (2001b). Welfare state or social safety nets? Development of the social welfare policy of the Kim Dae-Jung administration. Korea Journal, 41(2), 169–201.Google Scholar
  20. Kim, Y-B. (2002). A critical review about the typology for Korean welfare state. In Yeon-Myung Kim (Ed.), Debates on the Characteristics of Welfare State in Korea. Seoul: Human and Welfare (in Korean).Google Scholar
  21. Koo, H. (1987). The interplay of state, social class, and world system in East Asian development: The cases of South Korea and Taiwan. In F. C. Deyo (Ed.), The Political Economy of the new Asian Industrialism (pp. 165–181). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Krugman, Paul. (1998). What happened to Asia? Unpublished manuscript. http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/DISINTER.html accessed Dec. 8, 2010.
  23. Kurzer, P. (1993). Business and Banking: Political Change & Economic Integration in Western Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Kwon, Hyuck-Ju. (2002). Welfare reform and future challenges in the Republic of Korea: beyond the developmental welfare state? International Social Security Review, 44(4), 23–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lim, H.-C., & Jang, Jin-Ho. (2006). Neo-Liberalism in post-crisis South Korea: social conditions and outcomes. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 36(4), 442–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lipset, S. M. (1996). American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  27. Pempel, T. J. (1999). The enticement of corporatism: Appeals of the Japanese model in developing Asia. In Dennish L. Mcnamara (Ed.), Corporatism and Korean Capitalism. Routledge Studies in the Growth Economies of Asia. 24. London & New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Pierson, P. (1994). Dismantling the Welfare States? Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Retrenchment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Polanyi, Karl. (2001 [1944]). The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origin of Our Time. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  30. Prasad, M. (2005). Why is France so French? Culture, institutions, and neoliberalism. American Journal of Sociology, 111(2), 357–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Quadango, J. (2004). Physician sovereignty & the purchasers’ revolt. Journal of Health Politics, Policy & Law, 29(4–5), 815–834.Google Scholar
  32. Rodrick, D. (1998). Why do more open economies have bigger governments? Journal of Political Economy, 106(5), 997–1032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, & Evans, Peter B. (1985). The state and economic transformation: Toward an analysis of the conditions underlying effective intervention. In Peter B. Evans, Rueschemeyer Dietrich, & Skochpol Theda (Eds.), Bringing the State Back In. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Ruggie, J. G. (1982). International regimes, transactions, and change: embedded liberalism in the postwar economic system. International Organization, 30(2), 379–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schmitter, P. (1974). Still the century of corporatism? Review of Politics, 36, 85–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Song, Ho-Keun, & Hong, K. Z. (2008). Globalization and social policy in South Korea. In M. Glatzer & D. Rueschemeyer (Eds.), Globalization and the Future of the Welfare State. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  37. Steinmo, S. (1993). Taxation and Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Stiglitz, J. E. (2000). The insider-what I learned at the world economic crisis. April: The New Republic. 17.Google Scholar
  39. Swank, D. (2002). Global Capital, Political Institutions, and Policy Change in Developed Welfare States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wade, R. (1990). Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialization. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Weiss, L., & Hobson, J. M. (1995). States and Economic Development: A Comparative and Historical Analysis. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  42. Welfare Perspective (2001). People’s Solidarity for Participatory. May (in Korean): Democracy.Google Scholar
  43. Wong, J. (2004). Welfare Politics in Taiwan and South Korea. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Woo-Cumings, M. (1998). National security and the rise of the developmental state in South Korea and Taiwan. In H. S. Rowen (Ed.), Behind East Asian Growth: The Political and Social Foundations of Prosperity. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyRutgers, The State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA

Personalised recommendations