Understanding workfare in Western and East Asian welfare states

Chak Kwan CHAN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsForeword / Postscript

3 Citations (Scopus)


Many Western welfare states have adopted workfare as their dominant approach to provide welfare services. This has made social security conditional, with welfare beneficiaries having to fulfil assigned duties in order to receive their benefits. Traditional pro-welfare social democratic parties in Europe and the United States (US), as well as pro-market conservative parties, now support this approach to welfare provision (Lodemel & Trickey 2000a). Welfare reforms based on the ideology of workfare have occurred in all the countries in Western Europe (Handler 2003) and, since the mid-1990s, the European Union (EU) has regarded activation, which refers to activating the incentive to work among unemployed people, as the ‘cornerstone of social policy development’ (Lodemel & Trickey 2000b: 14). The impact of workfare has not been restricted to Western capitalist states.An increasing number of Asian countries have introduced welfare-to-work measures since the late 1990s. Asia’s socioeconomic conditions are different from those in Europe, however, so it is important to examine why East Asian welfare states have introduced workfare and what the main features of their workfare measures are. The first part of this introductory chapter therefore critically examines the socioeconomic factors contributing to the implementation of workfare in Western capitalist states. It then points out the nature of East Asian welfare states and this book’s key concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWelfare reform in East Asia : towards workfare?
EditorsChak Kwan CHAN, Kinglun NGOK
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781136680069
ISBN (Print)9780203810149
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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