Social Policy in East and Southeast Asia provides the first systematic comparison of the policy sectors of income maintenance, health, housing and education in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. It focuses particularly on the provision and financing arrangements of these four Asian newly industrialized economies and finds social policy in the region generally to be remarkably developed and comprehensive. Drawing upon extensive primary research, the author compares the differences in social policy in each of these Asian countries, measuring their outcomes in terms of adequacy, efficiency and equity. The policies of Korea and Taiwan place most importance upon health and income maintenance while policy in Hong Kong foregrounds health and housing, and in Singapore education and housing. Comparing each country's social policy with traditional ideals of the welfare state the book concludes that Northeast Asian states, namely Korea and Taiwan, may be best described as 'conservative' while those in Hong Kong and Singapore are more 'liberal' as their policies focus more upon supporting the market than maintaining income.
Locating the importance of Asian social policies in the wake of the recent financial crisis in the region, this work provides a comprehensive analysis of the different types of welfare state in contemporary Asia. It will be of interest to scholars of Asian Studies, Social Welfare and Public Policy.
M. Ramesh is Senior Fellow in the Public Policy Program at the National University of Singapore and Associate Professor (on leave) in Government the University of Sydney.