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Explaining Korean Welfare State Development with New Empirical Data and Methods

Sang-Hoon Ahn ㅣSeoul National University

Sophia Seung-yoon Lee ㅣGraduate School of Social Welfare, Ewha Womans University


Selecting Korea as one of the conceptually classified East Asian welfare states, this paper aims to empirically investigate the determinants of Korean welfare state development. Linking the research question with the lively discussion on welfare state in Korea that is taking place domestically, this paper also aims to examine whether the development of the Korean welfare state has been influ- enced by politics of the left or by industrialization with functionalistic perspectives. We conduct an analysis first by regression analysis and then fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to examine the conditions of such development. A Korean Welfare State Dataset (KWSD) has been newly included in the Comparative Welfare State Dataset (CWSD) and we used this new dataset for our empirical analysis. Our empirical findings suggest that, at least up to the current point, fac- tors other than economic development or industrialization are not robust enough to make a claim of a take-off of the Korean welfare state from its developmental stage. However, we also notice the influence of the left government and suggest that it is legitimate to expect an innovative change in the path of the Korean welfare state once the power resource theory is applicable.


Keywords Comparative Welfare State Dataset; East Asian welfare states; fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis; Korean welfare state


Asian Social Work and Policy Review 6 (2012) 67–85

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