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Pension policy stratifies the older members of society for differences in life course experience. We expect to see differences in class, gender, health status and ethnicity among the elderly. However, the most significant disparities in pensions occur between men and women. Pension policy is designed to provide high pensions for long and uninterrupted labour market participation; this is more prevalent among men than women. The disadvantaged position of older women has received a fair amount of scholarly attention, especially with regard to the high correlation between this population and poverty

This article examines the gender impact of National Pension reforms in the Republic of Korea. The NP was introduced in 1988 and initially it covered firms with more than ten employees. It is a contributory employment-based system which calculates pensions based on earnings and contribution period. The NP expanded its coverage to smaller firms (five or more employees) in 1992, to those in rural areas in 1995, to the self-employed in urban areas in 1999 and to employees in workplaces with one or more employees in 2001.

In 2007, the Korean government introduced an income-tested basic old-age pension scheme paying flat-rate benefits. It also introduced credited pension coverage periods for child rearing and changed entitlement conditions for divorcees and widows and widowers. This paper examines the impact of these policy changes for individuals with shorter working lives and lower wages, for survivors and for the traditional social protection role played by the family in Korea. Findings indicate that the reforms have some positive features. However, the reforms still offer better value for those with higher earnings and an uninterrupted employment history, both of which are more characteristic of male workers. Moreover, the important income security role played by the family is still strongly embedded in the provisions and the protection available to survivors remains weak.

Through the new implementation of Long-term care insurance, the marketisation of care services has noticeably progressed in South Korea. The number of service providers has significantly increased and the new market mechanisms such as competition and the abolition of government subsidy have been implemented.

 

The purpose of this paper is to look at the impacts of the marketisation of care services on service users and providers. In order to explore the issues, semi-structured in-depth interviews with 12 carers, 14 service providers (provider managers and care workers), and 12 care managers, were done in a pilot project area in Suwon city in South Korea, respectively.

 

The findings show that there were strong impacts of the marketisation of services in some ways. Most of all, as the competition among service providers got severe, it was difficult for them to find and increase cases which were eligible in LTCI. Nevertheless, the selective behaviour of service providers, cream-skimming (Le Grand and Bartlett, 1993) was found. Service users were selectively chosen by service providers in terms of service time, gender, and the financial conditions of older people. For service user, this seemed to lead the significant limitation of the access and use of care services in terms of equity. In order to tackle such limitation, the necessity of active intervention and role of care manager was suggested by the interviewees.

Earlier basic concepts used in comparative welfare research do not fit very well for evaluating how care services serve the needs of people. Mainstream concepts like decommodification refer to welfare cash benefits, not to support and care. Also defamilialization refers primarily to economic independence. Economic independence is certainly a major issue, in particular for gender equality, but care is also about other things than money. The basic interests of both, those needing care and those giving care, are not adequately reflected by either notion, decommodification or defamilialization.

The purpose of this paper is to look for, sketch and apply a concept that would suit better for the comparative study of care policies. As such a new conceptual approach, a concept of 'dedomestication' is suggested. 'Dedomestication' is defined as the degree to which people can participate in society, including participation in labour market as well as in social activities, outside their families. When analysing social care the question is whether and how much do care services promote this 'dedomestication'. The concept implies that, even though people (may) have a family life, they also have an opportunity to have a social life; they are not confined to the domestic sphere.

This is a policy objective that could possibly be shared by informal carers and disabled people as well as older people. The notion of 'dedomestication' is suggested here as a comparative perspective that does not separate the groups of disabled and older people and family carers from one another or show their needs as opposing to each other but that instead provides a common framework for research and development of support systems.

The paper will apply the 'dedomestication' approach in analysing and comparing social care systems of the Nordic countries, Britain and Taiwan.

Full paper: Kroger_2009_care_policies.pdf