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Welfarenomics: The Road to a Sustainable Capitalism and Welfare State

  • Sang-Mok Suh

Neo-liberalism, which became a dominant ideology in policy-making in many countries from the early 1980's, is now blamed for worsening inequality and the 2008 world financial crisis. As the recovery process is moving very slowly due to lingering uncertainties from the Euro crisis, going back to the European model of a welfare state is not a feasible policy direction for most countries. Thus, now is the time to seek a new paradigm for a sustainable capitalism and welfare state, Dr. Sang-Mok Suh argues. He proposes 'welfarenomics,' implying a better balance between economics and welfare.

Welfarenomics means promoting a sustainable calitalism through modifying the neo-classical market economy model in three ways: (1) strengthening the role of government in the areas of formulating & implementing national strategy; (2) increasing social values of business activities through developing new CSV (Creating Shared Value) activities; and (3) creating a habitat for co-development through activating civil society. Welfarenomics also implies promoting a sustainable welfare state through modifying the European welfare state model in three ways: (1) building a foundation for 'workfare' through developing customized job programs for welfare beneficiaries; (2) utilizing various welfare programs as means for social innovation; and (3) improving the effectiveness of welfare programs through applying various management concepts to the field of social welfare.

The presentation will cite some of the recent experiences in Korea, but the concept of welfarenomics can be applied to any country in need of achieving both economic growth and social equity.

For the past four decades, Dr. Sang-Mok Suh has been a policy-making expert in both economics and social welfare. After receiving his PhD in economics from Stanford University in 1973, Professor Suh worked at the World Bank for five years and at the Korea Development Institute (KDI), a top South Korean think tank, for ten years as a researcher. His doctoral dissertation was on the relationship between economic growth and income distribution. In 1986, he led the research team at KDI for formulating the National Pension Scheme for Korea. He was vice president of KDI, 1984–1988. As a Korea National Assembly member, 1988–2000, Dr. Suh played the key role of coordinating economic and welfare policies between the ruling party, on the one hand, and the government and opposition parties, on the other. While he was Minister of Social Welfare, 1993–1995, Dr. Suh formulated a comprehensive welfare strategy for Korea for the first time and initiated the Osong Bio Industrial Complex.

Currently Dr. Sang-Mok Suh is Distinguished Professor at Inje University in Korea and chairman of Education & Culture Forum 21.