The Small Welfare State
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The Small Welfare State

Rethinking Welfare in the US, Japan, and South Korea

Edited by Jae-jin Yang

In a period of rapid change for welfare states around the world, this insightful book offers a comparative study of three historically small welfare states: the US, Japan, and South Korea. Featuring contributions from international distinguished scholars, this book looks beyond the larger European welfare states to unpack the many common political and institutional characteristics that have constrained welfare state development in industrialized democracies.
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Chapter 10: Path dependence and possibilism: the American, Korean, and Japanese welfare states in comparative perspective

Stephan Haggard


This concluding chapter undertakes the exercise in three steps. First, it comments briefly on the concept of the small welfare state: what it means, some of the limitations of the concept and how being “small” has implications for the distribution of risk and the role of private actors. Second, it reexamines the core causal arguments of the book, highlighting some nuances in the chapters but also raising the role of causal factors that are addressed only in passing. These include the particular role international political factors—the Cold War and globalization—played in the three cases of the US, Japan, and Korea. It also looks at some distinctive issues that differentiate the three countries, particularly the role of federalism and race and ethnicity in the American case. Third, following the title, it raises some issues about the path of future change in these welfare states.

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