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A Look at the Need for a Paradigm Shift in Public Assistance Programs in Korea

NO, Dae-Myung 1

1한국보건사회연구원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study analyses the problems of Korean public assistances programs(PAP) and propose reform options. In recent years, the PAP has played a very important role in protecting the poor who were left out of social safety net. It means that the first objective of PAP is the expansion of social expenditure to cover the excluded poor. There is also two other objectives : support for the self-reliance of the working poor, and reform of inefficient benefits systems. With these objectives, the reform of PAP should be taken in line with the actual and coming reform direction of social protection system. The debate on the reform of PAP has been focused on the benefit system of National Basic Livelihood Security Program(NBLSP). Threre are three line of arguments which have been conflicting with one another. In fine, each of these arguments champions : 1) the expansion of PAP expenditure, 2) the activation of working poor, or 3) the efficiency of welfare programs. However, it is next to impossible to choose one among the three. Also, the propositions for the reforms (reform of benefit system, separation of cash benefit program in accordance with demographic subgroups) should not be thought of as independent of income protection for the poor. The choice proved to be impossible, after a long debate. But a more comprehensive reform plan for the PAP should be crafted. This study underlines that the OECD countries have reformed the institutional structure of PAP, the allocation strategy of public resources, the share of cash benefit and in-kind benefit in the past twenty years. The reform’s failure in some European countries was also an important research subject. This study proposes an open discussion about the actual problems of PAP : welfarefraud, delivery system, and low policy outcome. Finally, this study propses a paradigm shift in PAP. Helping the working poor exit from NBLSP is not the feasible policy objective, because that it means an exit from all welfare programs.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.