Governing the Developmental Welfare State: From Regulation to Provision

Part of the The Political Economy of the Asia Pacific book series (PEAP, volume 13)


The transformation of the Republic of Korea (hereinafter referred to as “Korea”) over the past 50 years has been impressive, if not miraculous, even to unconcerned observers. Once one of the world’s poorest countries Korea’s fast economic growth has turned it into a society that is both modern and affluent. Its ruthless authoritarian regime has yielded to elected governments in a stable but vibrant democratic polity. Equally important, but less noticed in Korea’s remarkable metamorphosis, has been the evolution of the welfare state. The welfare state in Korea progressed from a simple structure with a minimal number of programs to a fairly comprehensive system (Ringen et al. 2011). During this time, the country acquired distinctive social policy characteristics which changed it into what the author calls a “developmental welfare state” (Kwon 2005). This refers to an institutional arrangement of the welfare state where elite policymakers set economic growth as a fundamental goal, pursue a coherent strategy to achieve it, and use social policy as an instrument to attain that goal. In other words, the developmental welfare state comprises a group of social policies and institutions that are predominantly structured to facilitate economic development.


Welfare State National Health Insurance Social Protection Health Fund Land Reform 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Public AdministrationSeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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