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Parochial Welfare Politics and the Small Welfare State in South Korea

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Why is the Korean welfare state underdeveloped? From the institutionalist point of view, it is evident that existing institutions influence the policy preferences of key actors of welfare politics: organized labor and employers on the demand side and politicians on the supply side. Distributive demands of organized labor have been satisfied by affluent big business (or chaebol) through an implicit or explicit cross-class alliance with parochial enterprise unions, and the nation's single-member-district electoral rules have induced politicians to sell geographically targeted benefits rather than promising social welfare for all beyond their district. As a result, despite the nation's successful economic growth and democratization, neither the supply nor the demand side has been conducive to significant welfare state expansion in Korea.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2013

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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