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Despite their significant dedication to the remarkable economic growth, the poverty rate of older adults in Korea remains the highest among developed economies. This study utilises the Shapley decomposition to analyse the effects of socio-economic changes and recently developed welfare system on poverty heterogeneity between older old and younger old. The findings indicate that the poverty rate for younger old improved from 47.9 per cent in 2003 to 32.3 per cent in 2020, whereas the rate for older old increased from 49.8 per cent to 60.1 per cent. Specifically, the contribution-based public pension presented smaller anti-poverty effects on older old than younger old, because it was implemented later, therefore, older old could not accumulate adequate contribution periods. In addition, means-tested benefits had limited effects in reducing the poverty risk for the two old groups, as they are not well-targeted and provide insufficient benefits. Furthermore, older Korean adults are compelled to participate in the labour market to make ends meet, and earned income significantly mitigated the poverty risk of younger old. Based on these findings, this article argues that the government needs to implement more inclusive fiscal measures to alleviate the poverty threat of older old.

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This article presents the development of a measure to assess the prevalence and patterning of multidimensional child poverty in South Korea. The first goal of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to reduce poverty in all its dimensions, and countries are increasingly developing their own measures of multidimensional poverty. This flourishing of different measures presents challenges for international comparisons. The article applies an internationally-validated method of assessing multidimensional poverty to demonstrate its suitability for use in a high-income Asian economy. Multidimensional child poverty is assessed by combining data on child material deprivation with their household income. Using data from the 2018 Korean National Children Survey, we show that child material deprivation is higher (15%) than income poverty (12%). When measured using a combined measure of material deprivation and income, around one in every three children in Korea were found to be either poor or vulnerable to poverty. These findings show that the official monetary poverty measure on its own may understate the percentage of children unable to afford necessities in Korea, as envisioned by international targets like the SDGs. In terms of policy, analysis of individual deprivations suggests that a combination of in-kind benefits such as vouchers for leisure activities or education and asset-building programmes as well as cash transfers are needed for tackling child poverty.

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This article examines the past, present and future of income maintenance schemes in Korea. Historically, income security schemes have been built on the idea of work-centred social insurance supplemented by social assistance. This approach was based on the premise of full employment. While current schemes have achieved institutional completeness and have contributed to alleviating poverty and inequality, they have exhibited limitations in responding to the qualitative shifts of capitalism, leading to welfare blind spots. Various alternatives have been proposed, such as universal basic income (UBI), which aims for equality, and residual Safety Income (SI), which aims for efficiency. The objective of this study is to validate the effects of basic income proposals and SI as alternative income maintenance schemes emerging in Korea. We simulated and compared the poverty alleviation and income redistribution effects of the two alternatives using data from the Survey of Household Finances and Living Conditions (2019~2021). The effects of poverty alleviation and income distribution were determined by analysing the hypothetical changes in absolute and relative poverty rates, as well as the Gini coefficient. The efficiency of benefits was assessed as the ratio of the amount used to reduce the poverty gap out of the total benefit amount. The study found that while SI appeared cost-effective in addressing absolute poverty, UBI was also effective in addressing relative poverty and income inequality.

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Public awareness of social welfare policies, along with their increasing political influence, has led to growing interest in welfare attitudes. However, there has been insufficient consideration of the effects of different cohorts and social exclusion groups on attitudes to welfare in Korean society, as well as the dynamics of these effects. This article specifically examines changes in attitudes to welfare in South Korea with a focus on cohort and social exclusion perspectives. First, the study found that recent attitudes towards redistribution highlight generational perspectives on intergenerational conflict rather than a focus on social exclusion. Second, cohorts associated with democratisation and the information age displayed reluctance towards tax increases but held favourable views regarding redistributive policies and universal welfare. Third, socially excluded groups tended to favour selective welfare and tax increases. Finally, the current elderly generation, represented by the War-industrialisation cohort, exhibited relatively negative attitudes towards the welfare system compared to subsequent generations. These findings underscore the necessity for expanding government policies to enhance welfare understanding and experiences among the post-war generation and socially excluded groups. Additionally, it is crucial to address generational distributional justice and to broaden discussions on solidarity.

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People seeking asylum often have a range of complex social, emotional and economic needs that may be exacerbated by the hostile reception that they often receive. These needs and the stress of navigating asylum systems leave asylum seekers vulnerable to crisis, with refused asylum seekers particularly vulnerable. Even after receiving settled status of some form, barriers to accessing employment or housing and other services remain, as do the impacts of trauma, abuse, and loss sustained in the country of origin, during flight, or during the wait to receive settled status, again leaving refugees vulnerable to crisis. Early action can both have benefits for the individual asylum seeker and reduce the need for costly crisis interventions. This scoping review explores best practice in early action in the voluntary sector, while identifying gaps in the evidence base.

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This chapter analyses the gendered effects of IMF conditionality and advice surrounding social protection policies in Latin America. Leveraging a critical political economy lens, it demonstrates that negative gendered effects of conditionality from the end of the 20th century, which sought to rationalize the ideology and instruments of neoliberal capitalism and that were rife with contradictions, have concerning continuities in present day. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, many IMF conditions and recommendations continue to be hindered by limited logics of gendered constraints or even worsened in said regard as they reflect a greater orientation toward neoliberalism. Moreover, the author critically analyzes the incomplete and insufficient ‘gender turn’ the IMF has made and warns with concern that this strategy by the IMF appropriates portions of feminist political economy understandings to fit within the goals of neoliberal paradigms.

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This chapter offers an analysis on how the twin crises, the debt crisis and the climate change crisis, overburden women in the Global South and threaten the full exercise of their human rights. Through a study that includes how governments implement expenditure cutbacks, higher extractivism and other contractionary or orthodox economic policies, which in fact are deepened to mitigate the current debt crisis, they show how the debt crisis is intrinsically connected to the climate crisis in a cycle that is self-fed and damaging – in a disproportionate way – for women’s rights. Moreover, this chapter shows the need to advance with reforms of the global financial architecture in order to deal with the twin crises in a comprehensive, systemic and feminist way, for instance, through the cancellation of debt to move resources so as to facilitate the energy transition.

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‘Is feminist sovereign debt a utopia or an oxymoron?’ the editors ask in the introduction to this book. This volume broadens and strengthens a feminist approach to the challenges posed by sovereign over-indebtedness of low and middle-income countries and debt-related androcentric economic policies to women’s human rights. Contributors address questions regarding sovereign debt and gender economic violence, development, climate change, legal standards, United Nations developments, including world and regional UN conferences on women, international financial institutions’ (IMF and World Bank) androcentric policies, the right to care and the right to education, private indebtedness, budget and debt (and life) sustainability analyses with gender perspective, social progress indicators, feminist reforms of the international financial architecture, gender bonds and the institutionalization of a gender approach in the public debt field.

These questions need to be tackled collectively and pluralistically. Hence contributors come from several social science disciplines, from a number of countries and regions, and from diverse professional backgrounds, including academia, the United Nations and civil society organizations.

As Diane Elson writes in the foreword to this book, ‘this innovative book shows the benefits of a feminist approach to the sovereign debt crisis because it goes well beyond a concern with increasing economic growth to pose as a key test: what will reforms mean for poor women? Will their debt distress be ended? Will their human rights be fulfilled? Everyone should be in no doubt that sovereign debt is a feminist issue’.

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This chapter systematizes and analyzes the way in which sovereign debt and its effects on women have been discussed and agreed upon in the United Nations (UN) world women’s conferences from 1975 to 1995 and the regional (Latin American and the Caribbean) women’s conferences from 1977 to 2022. Among the main findings, it is noted that the diagnoses reached and recommendations made at world and regional conferences have been extremely sensitive to the economic, political and social dynamics driven by debt during the periods these meetings took place: as early as the regional conferences in Guatemala (1988) and in Mar del Plata (1994), and in the world conference in Beijing (1995), the harmful and differential effects of debt on women’s rights were stressed as well as the importance of guaranteeing women’s participation in debt and structural adjustment negotiations. The chapter also identifies that in the regional conferences (compared to the world ones) there have been earlier, more robust, continuous and specific denunciations in the field of debt, orthodox economic policies and their differential impact on women, proposing a number of factors that could explain those divergencies.

Open access