Welfare residualism: a comparative study of the Basic Livelihood Security systems in China and South Korea


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

In this article, the Basic Livelihood Security (BLS) systems of China and South Korea are compared. The purpose of BLS is to provide a safety net for poor families, particularly the unemployed and the retired who were hard‐hit by recent economic reforms and crises. A common characteristic of the two systems is residual welfare marked by strict eligibility rules and limited coverage. Both systems are subordinate to the primary goal of economic growth and therefore only compensate for the very disadvantaged left behind by market competition. Neither system is particularly effective in achieving its original antipoverty goals. However, South Korea’s provision of self‐support programs to supplement cash transfers has helped individuals to move from welfare to work, and thus has implications for China’s BLS system. Both countries need to put more emphasis on equity and social justice in their ongoing reforms and expansions of BLS.

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