Social Investment, Welfare State and Generation Politics: The Case of South Korea

Friday, July 18, 2014: 9:45 AM
Room: F203
Distributed Paper
Soo-Wan KIM , Social Welfare, Kangnam University, Yong-In City, South Korea
Sang-Hoon AHN , Social Policy, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
This study aims to introduce a new generational politics model, and to apply it in explaining the welfare politics in South Korea where social investment strategy has recently been pursued. So far, social investment perspective underscoring policies for the early stage of life rather than policies for older age has overlooked welfare politics, whereas existing theories on welfare politics have failed to organize generational interests theoretically. To fill this theoretical gap, this study suggests ‘three generations model’ which establishes older generation, working generation, and future generation as key stakeholders having welfare status in the welfare state. Applying this model, this study explains how public pension for older generation has reformed, and how social investment policies for future generation have expanded in South Korea since the late 2000s. The main results are as follows: First, the findings in analyzing pension reform show that generational cleavages were stronger than the class cleavages of labor-capital or insider-outsider. Furthermore, future generation has been considered as a main stakeholder even without visible representation in decision making. Second, development of childcare policy has been pursued in the context of social investment in South Korea. The complete expansion of childcare support has been made possible as the interests of current working generation and of future generation were considered almost conformable. In addition, investment on future generation has been considered as the compensation for generational equality in the era of ageing society. Theoretically, this study confirms that three generations model has an effective explanatory power in understanding welfare politics of social investment.