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In the Conclusion we go through the main findings of the book showing the importance of multidimensional approaches to welfare attitude studies, and also the importance of including political and cultural trajectories when analysing welfare attitudes. It is argued that doing so successfully means decentring the European experience and historical trajectories that have served as benchmarks for concepts in welfare attitude studies. The chapter goes on to suggest ways in which we can improve our methodological and theoretical approaches in welfare attitude studies to get more comprehensive understandings of welfare attitudes across countries in the world.

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Chapter 5 explores the importance of cultural value systems when it comes to welfare and welfare attitudes. A key finding is that it is crucial that we do not default to using Confucianism as a catch-all explanation of values in these societies as there is great variation in attitudes and values across them. A focus on a collective, here often represented as the family, and other factors such as ideological socialisation, personal factors and experiences are found to be important when we explore the extent to which cultural aspects can explain who has what welfare attitudes. The chapter shows how attitudes towards gender roles are crucial and important to take into account when analysing welfare attitudes in East Asia as these attitudes shapes views of who should do what and why when it comes to care and welfare provision in the community – key elements in welfare attitudes and deservingness. Much higher percentages than in Western countries see it as the family’s role to care for elderly and children under school age. Furthermore, the role of family in supporting education is important.

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This chapter take a deep dive into the importance of the political when it comes to shaping and explaining welfare attitudes in East Asian societies. To do so we set out the trends when it comes to what citizens think should be role and responsibility of government and about the performance of government and then move on to consider what political factors may explain these views. Again, there is no one model across these countries, and political systems and attitudes matter differently depending on society and political system in a society. This is particularly so in mainland China. We also look at the importance of what has been called Asian values and find that, in the societies studied, those citizens who value the importance of obeying a ruler give greater support for redistribution. We find traces of cultural patterns as we uncover negative attitudes towards work being a duty and the view that people who do not work are lazy in all countries, but more so in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. However, work being a duty is a shared value across societies. The chapter explores what may explain these trends, comparing what explains welfare attitudes in different political systems.

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Why study welfare attitudes, and why in East Asia? The Introduction to the book sets out what welfare attitudes are, how they are defined and makes the case for why East Asian societies are crucial to study when it comes to welfare attitudes. It also sets out the structure of the book and what to expect as we move along the different dimensions of welfare attitudes.

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Cultural and Political Trajectories
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East Asian societies and welfare systems are rapidly changing, creating an increasing need for research that can help to establish sustainable and legitimate welfare systems.

This original volume considers welfare attitudes in East Asia, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macao, Singapore and Taiwan, using qualitative and quantitative research methods. Proposing new methods and approaches to analysing cross-national variations in welfare attitudes, it decentralises dominant European based concepts and measurements and takes approaches that are sensitive to cultural and political trajectories and the impact of colonialism and gender.

This book explores the influence of contextual and individual factors, such as family roles and values, on citizens’ welfare attitudes. It also studies social legitimacy and social bonds to understand how to design and implement sustainable welfare policies.

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Chapter 6 uses the qualitative study’s findings to explore welfare attitudes and deservingness attitudes in mainland China and Singapore. The chapter also explores political campaigns and narratives in those countries as they are seen to represent values and influence and shape attitudes, roles and values. We find some differences in welfare attitudes in Singapore and China, and discuss how political systems and societies might explain this. The chapter argues in favour of what is called cultural and politically sensitive deservingness approaches. The chapter shows that: family and value systems guide the role of different people within families, influencing who is seen as deserving as well as whose role it is to provide welfare; filial piety is seen as a sought-after virtue; when analysing the attitudes with the deservingness criteria lens, two criteria mattered: contribution and identity; Singapore and mainland China differ in who has what attitudes when it comes to filial piety and the importance given to family; the importance of family is also reflected in policies, and answers among respondents reflect and mirror slogans from political campaigns in mainland China; and in Singapore we see the regime effect of the absence of immigrants when speaking of deservingness.

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This chapter sets out the framework used to analyse and understand welfare attitudes drawing on work by Roosma et al (2013) and Xu et al (2021). These approaches carefully set out the multidimensional characteristics of welfare attitudes as well as what explains them. Welfare attitudes here include the role, goals and performance that welfare systems have and should have, attitudes about and assessment of the performance of social policies and welfare systems, and attitudes towards and judgement of the outcomes. Furthermore, the book draws on deservingness theory to explore attitudes towards those in need. The book makes use of factors at societal levels, as well as community and individual characteristics to explain people’s welfare attitudes. The chapter also argues how the explanations and measurements used to decide what welfare attitudes matter need to grow out of the historical, cultural and political trajectories of the societies studied. The chapter argues for the need to expand our theoretical explanations to include cultural and political factors both at societal level and at individual levels to better explain welfare attitudes in places like East Asian societies.

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The chapter sets out what we know so far from previous studies about welfare attitudes in East Asia. It moves on to set out the major trends along the multidimensional framework of welfare attitudes set out in Chapter 2 across the East Asian societies. In doing so it shows that there is no one East Asian model of welfare attitudes, but rather different welfare systems with varied histories leading to different patterns of welfare attitudes. However, we do find some similarities, in particular when it comes to the role of family in taking care of the elderly and young people. This confirms what one would expect from Confucian and productivist welfare state regimes. We also find less support for income inequality and higher support for taxes than what one would expect from earlier studies. Furthermore, we found that Japan has slightly different patterns of welfare attitude from the other countries, pointing to the influence of an older and more advanced welfare state regime.

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Over the past few decades, there has been considerable dynamism in terms of discourse and practice in the social policy field. In the Introduction, we introduced six themes around which the discussions of the chapters in this volume have introduced new theoretical and analytical frameworks and the development of new social policies and programmes in non-Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. These were: a rights-based approach to social welfare; integration of social policy into other public policies; the newly assumed role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in delivering social services in transition economies; the emergence of supranational-level social policy; informal workers shaping the system of social policy programmes; and national ownership of social policy in the context of development cooperation.

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This chapter addresses post-Arab Spring youth employment policies in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia, with a focus on the guidance provided to these nations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its Article IV Consultation documents. The study reveals an underrepresentation of youth employment policy in recent literature and identifies external constraints on policy autonomy, particularly the influence of international financial institutions, such as the IMF. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the youth unemployment issue, with significant job losses across these countries. The authors find minimal evidence that IMF policies post-Arab Spring adjusted to address the demands for improved youth employment opportunities. Instead, the continued emphasis is on a supposed “skills mismatch” despite increasing education levels and a lack of evidence to support this claim. Central to the unemployment crisis is the absence of decent job opportunities, exacerbated by regional conflicts, political instability and the pandemic. The chapter highlights the Tunisian Center for Social Entrepreneurship as an innovative approach to addressing youth unemployment, emphasizing a shift away from market-led solutions. The study concludes that focusing international investments on creating employment opportunities could break the cycle of unemployment and subsequent social unrest prevalent in the region.

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