New life courses and social risks: implications for social policy in East Asia
Introduction In recent years, social policy in modern industrialized societies has been challenged by new social risks (Bonoli 2014; Taylor-Gooby 2004): developments such as increasingly volatile labour markets, the growing participation of women in the labour market, and longer life expectancies call into question the existing social policy, which is based on the assumption of a standardized, relatively stable and predictable life course. Alternatives to the standard life course (in the spheres of intimate relationships, family formations, child-bearing, employment, and retirement) are increasingly prevalent among all social groups (OECD 2007). While individuals in Asia are generally assumed to be relatively conservative, and more group-and family-oriented, various indicators show that non-standardized individual preferences, life courses and families have become more common. Higher incidents of poverty, insecure employment, and family breakdown have led to acute and persistent problems. People are expressing a heightened sense of risk and uncertainty. Many adapt to the challenges by constantly adjusting their life-course plans and decisions; others rely on external provisions and resources offered through social policy arrangements.