Contrasting approaches to old-age income protection in Korea and Taiwan

Young Jun Choi, Jin Wook Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Old-age income security has become one of the most important social policy issues in two East Asian emerging welfare states, South Korea and Taiwan, as they transform at a remarkable pace into societies with a representation of older people approaching that of western countries. During the last two decades, the two countries have developed different forms of social protection for older people. South Korea has expanded social insurance pensions with means-tested benefits, whereas Taiwan has introduced flat-rate old-age allowance programmes that exclude the rich rather than target the poor. much has been written about these programmes, but their actual performance in reducing old-age poverty has not been thoroughly examined. This paper analyses the anti-poverty effect of these programmes, firstly by describing recent developments in the two countries, and secondly by examining headcount poverty rates and the size and incidence of the poverty gap using nationally-representative micro-household datasets. We argue that while the programmes have increasingly reduced old-age income security, the different policy choices have resulted in distinctive welfare outcomes in the two countries. In the final section of the article, we discuss the long-term implications of the recent policy reforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1135-1152
Number of pages18
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a Korea University Grant (2009). We also wish to thank two anonymous referees for their constructive suggestions.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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