- 季刊経済理論 (ISSN:18825184)
- vol.41, no.2, pp.3-14, 2004-07-20
The welfare state, which was one of the major characteristics of the "Golden Age" of post-war prosperity, implied more than a mere hotchpotch of various social policy measures. It embodied the universal right of citizenship, the ideas of social justice and the moral post-war reconstruction as well. It also achieved a unique pattern of combination of welfare production and distribution, which altogether were the genuine hallmarks of the welfare capitalism. By trying to overcome deeply embedded class-division, market nexus and political extremism or barbarism, it made every effort to facilitate the social integration and to raise the living standard of the people. It was indeed what Marx called the great, though still quite limited, civilising influence of capital. In today's global integrated open economies, however, many of the assumptions that guided post-war welfare capitalism seem no longer to sustain. New drifting waves of socalled globalization challenge traditional social policy thinking. What, then, is the prospect for the welfare capitalism as we step into the highly competitive market-oriented stage where we eventually come full circle into the original image of market capitalism. We can identify, against this general backdrop, the clear symptoms of crisis in such four fields as class, employment, gender and generational relations. It has also become evident that three distinct welfare regimes are responding to this general and historic crisis in more or less regime-specific ways. Then, not only the general crisis but also each of the regime-specific dilemmas should be shed more light on. For example, the social democratic regime, though it is of relatively universalistic nature, still suffers the substantial degree of gender segregation, with women concentrated in public sector and low-skilled jobs. The liberal regime, in contrast, tries to confront its own dilemma, economic decline and domestic unemployment, by pursuing greater market and wage flexibility, and seeking to reduce the social costs and taxation. Deepening inequality and rising poverty rates are the necessary and associated result of the low wage strategy. The conservative regime, finally, epitomizes the gendered "insider-outsider problem" in which a small, predominantly male, "insider" workforce is enjoying rather privileged working conditions with other half or growing population of "outsiders" depending either breadwinner's pay or the relatively less favourable conditions. If we pick up another characteristic of this regime, highly gendered job segregation as well, we can also find the solid fact that this welfare regime tend strongly to stress the family as the core unit of social care and the woman as full-time housewife. Both tax policies and social services in this conservative regime firmly based on the particular ideological framework, which points the family, rather than individual, as the locus and the women, rather than men, as the main providers of the care. Evidently the percentage of the elderly living with their children is quite high in this regime. Interestingly this familism, which is quite strong among the Mediterranean countries, is also shared by Japanese welfare capitalism. In this whole context, we would like to conclude that our prime target for the policy change must be the familism as the ideology of the persistent cultural and social policy framework in Japan.