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    Social and Cultural Issues

    Analyzing Social Capital in Context: A Guide to Using Qualitative Methods and Data

    -Lee Nora Dudwick, Kathleen Kuehnast, Veronica Nyhan Jones, and Michael Woolcock

    Social capital, defined most practically as social networks and norms, mediates development opportunities and outcomes. As such, social capital research increasingly informs the design and evaluation of World Bank-supported projects and policies across diverse regions and countries. This paper assists researchers and development task managers in their efforts to better understand and incorporate the social sphere into their work. This document offers a set of qualitative tools and strategies that are useful for gauging the nature and extent of people’s interactions with each other and with key private, public, and civic institutions.

    2006. 46 pages. Stock No. 37260. Full text. PDF 618 Kb

    Education Policy in the Republic of Korea: Building Block or Stumbling Block?
    -Jisoon Lee
    While noting the benefits of strong public-sector involvement in Korea's educational system (e.g. equal access, common standards), this paper draws attention to one major drawback: the poor quality of secondary and tertiary education. As a result of this problem, Korean households spend a significant proportion of their income on private tuition, supplementary educational materials, and overseas education. The paper argues that it may be time for Korea to shift to a more flexible educational system allowing greater scope for students and teachers to select each other, more incentives for improving teacher quality, and a simplified and decentralized educational administration set-up.
    2001. 31 pages. Stock No. 37164. Full text. PDF 472 Kb

    Employment Practices as Social Policy
    -Hiroyuki Chuma
    This paper examines several Japanese employment practices with a view to understanding their origins and evolution, the role of government policy in shaping them, and their distinctiveness in comparison with other industrail countries. Attention is given to four such practices: (a) flexible employment conditions; (b) lifetime employment; (c) egalitarian in-house training; and (d) the use of female temporary workers.
    2002. 19 pages. Stock No. 37199. Full text 271 KB

    The Evolution of Social Policy in Japan
    -Konosuke Odaka
    Japan was slow in institutionalizing the system of social expenditures (in a broad sense of the term), excepting in education. The paper briefly describes the historical background of the circumstances regarding education, social education, medical care, social amenities, and income relief plans. The paper ascribes the reasons for the late start, especially of the national pension scheme, to a number of factors. First one is the lack of the social doctrine which asserts that access to social securities is an integral part of basic human rights. Second, the society was equipped with the social tradition of mutual help with pervasive reliance on kinship and/or community relations. Third, the private sector, an in particular big corporations, supplied generous welfare programs of their own, fully satisfying the needs of their employees. Last, liberalistic ideology (of labor movement, for instance), which would challenge the philosophy of the ruling regime, has been relatively weak, so that there was not enough political pressure to effectively realize the early introduction of social expenditures.
    2002. 22 pages. Stock No. 37202. Full text 183 KB

    Health Insurance and the Growth of the Private Health Sector in the Republic of Korea
    -Bong-min Yang
    This paper analyzes the efficacy of the national health insurance (NHI) system in the Republic of Korea and the role played by the private health sector in the provision of health care services. The Korean example suggests that while private-sector participation in NHI is important, appropriate institutional mechanisms should be put in place to control system costs and to provide affordable access to low-income groups.
    2001. 22 pages. Stock No. 37163. Full text PDF 202 Kb

    Japanese Policies toward Poverty and Public Assistance
    A Historical Perspective
    -Sheldon Garon
    In Japan today, means-tested public assistance remains a modest component of the welfare system-in marked contrast to the expanding universal programs of national pensions, national health insurance, and medical care for the elderly. Remarkably the numbers of public-assistance recipients in Japan have sharply declined in recent decades, despite urbanization and structural changes in the economy. Moreover, a mere one-third of households below the poverty line receive public assistance, in part because most lower-income Japanese do not apply for such aid. This paper explores the various historical, political, and ideological factors that underlie Japan's minimal provision of public assistance.
    2002. 24 pages. Stock No. 37200. Full text 206 KB

    Japanese Social Policy in Comparative Perspective
    -John Creighton Campbell
    With regard to traditional social policy or the "welfare state in a narrow sense," Japan is not as different from Western models as is usually assumed. With Long-Term-Care Insurance, it may soon start to look distinctive in the more expansive direction and perhaps become a model for other nations (though only for the elderly). Looking at social policy more broadly, it appears that Japan has pursued welfare objectives, particularly a high level of equality of living standards across the population, more through the tax system and a set of employment-support policies (trade protection, competition-inhibiting regulations, price subsidies, building public works) than through traditional welfare-state programs. That pattern helps account for Japan's record of low public spending on social policy, but may still represent a rather high level of costs imposed by government on society.
    2002. 19 pages. Stock No. 37197. Full text 189 KB

    Labor Market and Social Insurance Policy in India: A Case of Losing on Both Competitiveness and Caring
    -Ramgopal Agarwala and Zafar Dad Khan
    Social development in India over the last 50 years has suffered from three fatal flaws in the Nehruvian vision that set the tone for policies in this period. These were: reliance on the Soviet model of heavy industry-oriented and inward-looking development policy; adoption of the Anglo-American concept of "the welfare state"; and the Indian/colonial feudal tradition of creating and maintaining distance between the ruling elite and the public. The first flaw led to a low-growth economy while the second resulted in ambitious welfare objectives beyond the state's capacity for implementation. The third encouraged hypocrisy on the part of the ruling class and cynicism on the part of the masses. Taken together, these tendencies rendered the Indian economy noncompetitive and society "non-caring".
    2001. 26 pages. Stock No. 37168. Full text 313 KB

    The National Pension Scheme of the Republic of Korea
    -Bong-min Yang
    This paper presents the experience of the Republic of Korea in setting up a National Pension Scheme (NPS) and assesses its likely effectiveness in coping with future challenges. The paper provides two main lessons for other developing countries: (a) a pension system should be based on accurate financial and demographic projections that affect its long-term sustainability; and (b) it is better to take a gradual approach by starting with a limited coverage, low-benefit package and upgrading it over time in keeping with the performance of the economy.
    2001. 18 pages. Stock No. 37162. Full text 121 KB

    Public Health Insurance in Japan
    -Tetsuo Fukawa
    Japanese universal public health insurance which is largely based on a fee-for-services payment system has functioned well so far. There are several key factors for the success of this program such as social solidarity and infrastructure for the utilization review. However, people's demand on health services has increased over the years and as a result, reform in under way to provide more diversified and quality-oriented health services. The centralized system is viewed as less suitable for coping with these more recent issues related to the quality of health care. While the private sector has established an important infrastructure that delivers health services and maintains public health, its role is relatively small in terms of health service financing. Going forward, two major challenges remain. They are: (i) to provide the elderly population with adequate health, nursing, and long-term care services at an affordable cost, and (ii) to reduce regional differences in health care expenditure.
    2002. 23 pages. Stock No. 37201. Full text 289 KB

    The Public Pension System in Japan
    The Consequences of Rapid Expansion
    -Eiji Tajika
    The paper focuses on the public pension system in Japan and traces its development against the overall background of the socioeconomic developments since 1950s. The country's establishment of a public pension system that covers the entire population took place fairly recently. It was only in 1961 that the compulsory pension plan for the self-employed was introduced. Together with the already existing income-compensation scheme for retired civil servants and various employees' pension plans, every Japanese gained access to a public pension plan in one form or another. Just because the public pension was installed late, however, does not mean that its financial status was sound. On the contrary, the social security reform in the early 1970s changed the landscape of Japanese public pension virtually overnight. Put simply, benefits overshot prospective contributions. The paper recommends that since the unfounded pension systems such as the one adopted by Japan are at the mercy of demographic changes, developing countries should adopt pension systems with sound actuarial basis.
    2002. 26 pages. Stock No. 37203. Full text 324 KB

    The Role of Families, Communities, and Governments in Improving Socioeconomic Performance
    The Japanese Experience
    -Shinji Yamashige
    By tracing Japan's history, the paper argues that families and communities have played important roles in the country's successful socioeconomic performance. The argument is first made by comparing Japan's socioeconomic data with those of other OECD countries. Then, the paper presents some case studies to gain a better understanding of the roles played by Japanese families and communities. This does not imply, however, that government had a small role. On the contrary, the Japanese government succeeded in attaining high socioeconomic levels at relatively low cost by supporting and utilizing families & communities. This may be termed a Japanese-style welfare policy. Finally, the paper argues that along with economic growth in Japan, family and community ties have weakened to a point at which the government must assume larger roles to maintain socioeconomic performance.
    2002. 35 pages. Stock No. 37204. Full text 641 KB

    Social Expenditure and Economic Growth
    Sharing Growth in a Japanese Way
    -Eiji Tajika and Yuji Yui
    Japan has achieved rapid improvement in social welfare during its high economic growth era, while the expansion of social expenditure as a percentage of GDP remained stable during this period. One of the reasons for this may have been that Japan had a relatively younger population at the time. This paper shows that public policies played a major role in promoting social welfare during this period by adopting appropriate budgetary & tax policies and introducing local delivery of social services. However, this pattern of maintaining high economic growth and low social expenditure came to an end in the early 1970s. The government responded to public demand for more comprehensive welfare policies by increasing benefits such as medical services and pension and as a result, social expenditure, which was once the nation's building block, turned into a stumbling block.
    2002. 25 pages. Stock No. 37198. Full text 480 KB

    Social Expenditure in Taiwan (China)
    -Peter C.Y. Chow
    Social expenditures in Taiwan (China) accelerated during recent decades in accordance with economic development, social transformation, and democratization. Among the various categories of expenditure, education spending received and continues to receive the highest priority. Furthermore, the government was able to match its human-resource development targets with the actual needs of the economy while promoting competition among individuals for educational advancement. Spending on another priority area - social security - has risen gradually, with social security programs initially covering only a small targeted segment of the population and then expanding to cover a wider cross-section of society. Meanwhile, a comprehensive National Health Insurance (NHI) was introduced only a few years ago (in 1995). The hallmark of Taiwan's (China's) approach to social policy has thus been gradualism. This approach has helped it avoid fiscal crises caused by unsustainable social spending. However, democratization in recent years will likely accelerate such spending.
    2001. 57 pages. Stock No. 37167. Full text 1,421 KB

    Social Funds and Reaching the Poor: Experiences and Future Directions
    -Anthony G. Bigio, editor
    This document contains the proceedings from an international workshop convened to assess a decade's implementation experience of social funds and their impact on poverty reduction; to establish a broad consensus on their main achievements, weaknesses, and risks; to generate a set of recommendations for improving existing operations as well as for the design of future social funds; and to facilitate the integration of international and regional networks of social funds.
    1998. 258 pages. ISBN 0-8213-4209-6. SKU 14209. $25.00
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    Social Policy in Singapore: A Confucian Model?
    -Habibullah Khan
    According to this paper, Singapore owes its success in economic and social development in recent decades to pragmatic policies and general public acceptance of a limited government role in such areas as health and social security. Pragmatism has consisted of placing a significant part of the burden of social welfare on families and individuals rather than on the state while, at the same time, using government policies to ensure that citizens take social-welfare objectives seriously. The pre-eminent example of this is Singapore's social security system which is based on compulsory savings by individuals and firms, and is managed and invested by the Central Provident Fund (CPF). This provides income security for retirees without placing an excessive fiscal burden on the state. Similarly, the health-care system is characterized by a pragmatic mix of personal payments, limited national insurance coverage, and employment-based health care benefits. However, in the sphere of education, government spending has been substantial in recognition of the fact that Singapore's economic prospects were tied to the availability of a highly skilled workforce. At present, higher education in Singapore remains highly subsidized and private-sector involvement - especially in terms of funding and management - remains low.
    2001. 30 pages. Stock No. 37165. Full text 374 KB

    Street Children: Promising Practices and Approaches
    -Elena Volpi
    Street children are an alarm signaling the dire need for social development and poverty reduction policies to improve the situation in the community at large, and to prevent more young people from becoming marginalized. While preventive interventions are essential, those children already facing the hardships of street life need immediate opportunities for human development via special protection programs. This report distills the main lessons learned from a number of programs that have attempted to meet the special needs of street children worldwide. Its purpose is to help potential donors understand activities in this area and identify promising practices.
    2002. 37 pages. Stock No. 37196. Full text 228 KB


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