The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has created tremendous hazards to people worldwide. Incidence, hospitalization, and mortality rates have varied by individual and regional socioeconomic indicators. However, little is known about the indirect social and economic losses following the COVID-19 pandemic and to what extent they have disproportionately affected different groups of people. Building on the traditional conceptualizations of “old” and “new social risks,” this article tracks and analyzes the emerging “COVID social risks” in five critical areas: physical health, employment and income, skills and knowledge, care, and social relationships. The article empirically examines to what extent the manifestations of “COVID social risks” describe the makings of a new class divide in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Finally, this article discusses whether “COVID social risks” present a temporary or lasting phenomenon and to what extent interactions with processes of digitization and de-globalization are likely to produce similar problem pressures for East Asian governments amid future crises. East Asian governments should facilitate individuals’ ability to absorb “COVID social risks” and institutionalize a new welfare policy settlement that emphasizes complementarities between the social protection, social investment, and social innovation policy paradigms.
This work was supported by the Yonsei University Research Grant of 2021, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
- social risks
- inclusive society
- East Asia