Asia in transition

Spent last week in Seoul invited by KERI to give a keynote on its annual international conference 2012 on Sustainable Growth and Welfare Policy. Welfare policies top the presidential election debates with all three candidates promising more welfare. Certain economists are worried about increasing social expenditures. But from a Scandinavian perspective well-designed welfare policies aimed at reconciling work and family life, social investments and elderly care seem a potential vibrant contribution to increase fertility currently hovering at 1.23 kids per woman, low employment rates of well-educated women implying a loss of human capital and educational investments and a way of partly meeting the ageing population. Korea’s population is ageing rapidly closing in on Japan by 2030. Welfare reform is likely to stay on the agenda in many years to come.