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Welfare State, Decentralization, and Local Politics Interpreting Welfare Decentralization in South Korea from Historical-Comparative Perspectives

Jin-Wook Shin 1 서준상 1

1중앙대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study investigates the characteristics of the relationship between central government and local government, between national politics and local politics during the past decade of welfare decentralization in South Korea after 2005. Main questions are: firstly, was the welfare decentralization in Korea a means of neoliberal welfare state retrenchment? Secondly, did the decentralization measures actually result in the weakening of the power of central government? Thirdly, did the local politics began to show independent political dynamics? For these questions, the size and share of social welfare expenditure of the central and local government, their historical trends, and the power structure of local government head and local parliament are analyzed. Major findings are as follows: firstly, the welfare decentralization in Korea did not mean welfare state retrenchment as both the central government and most local governments continued to increase the social welfare expenditure in the course of the welfare decentralization. Secondly, the welfare decentralization in Korea functioned as an institutional channel of the expansion of welfare policies of the central government into the local level, as the growth of the welfare expenditure in local governments depended largely upon the state subsidy programs and revenue-sharing system. Thirdly, the local power structure made a considerable impact on the welfare policy of local governments, but the national politics influenced the local power structure strongly through local elections.

Citation status

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