Privatisation and diversification in the Japanese welfare state: Toward a new safety net through regulation?
Comparative welfare state research has long distinguished between types of welfare states based merely on measures of public social expenditure. This, however, neglects that social security is usually the product of interrelated public, private and occupational welfare schemes. Moreover, it entails substantial and diverse forms of regulation of “welfare markets” that ensure that private provision of welfare is similar to that offered by public schemes. These markets have to fulfil social policy objectives, e.g. such as sufficient supply of affordable housing or old age security, while also functioning as alternatives or even replacements to public schemes. Although regulation for welfare is not a new phenomenon, market-oriented welfare reforms in recent years have made it ever more relevant. The case of Japan promises unique insights because formal and informal regulations, functional equivalents to public welfare as well as linkages between public, private and occupational schemes have always been particularly relevant in Japan. The research project analyses how traditional and new stakeholders in the emerging and evolving Japanese safety net participate in regulatory decisions and how regulators balance social and economic objectives.