|In this study, we viewed broadly the history of welfare state from Golden Age to remodeling stage, and analyzed the trends of unemployment and poverty changes in the main OECD countries since 1980s. In particular, as countermeasure for the working poor, we purposed to look into the implications to welfare policy of Korea by focusing on the activation policy of Denmark, Germany and UK which are representative for social-democratic, conservative and liberal welfare regime respectively.
Since mid-1970s, the Western countries have experienced the continuous economic recession and high unemployment rates, de-industrialization and globalization as the pattern of capitalist accumulation regime change, low fertility rate and aging. And they had to accept the change of welfare system as regulation style that corresponds to these phenomena. As the representative aspect, activation policy can be considered importantly. This welfare reform characterized as workfare was operated by neo-liberal regime in 1980s, and expanded to Europe since 1990s.
As the result of study about activation policy of Denmark, Germany, UK, we can verify the converging trend of overall direction. However, there are still significant differences among countries about the specific objectives, methods, and performances. In Denmark, ‘Golden triangle’ is the main model of the activation policy. This model is designed to increase the flexibility of the labor market, provide universal welfare benefits and services which can be readily changed the position between de-commodification and re-commodification for the adaptable workforce. In the UK, although high flexibility of the labor market is similar to Denmark, there is a difference that the activation policy is based on the residual model. In this model, welfare benefits, especially the cash benefits have been structured with a focus on the social assistance. The activation policy of Germany focuses on the long-term unemployed, especially those who received unemployment assistance because flexibility of labor market is relatively low, unemployment rate and the proportion of long-term unemployed is high.
In South Korea, employment rate, especially female employment rate is low, the dead zone of income security has been very widely distributed. This fact might deteriorate the working poor problem. In the future, we should actively prepare activation policy to increase the employment for the working poor through the way of the improvement of the delivery system, provision of income security, and the reinforcement of the incentive to work.