Welfare is expanding in Asia. The reasons why depend on who you ask. Some say it’s a result of greater wealth and democratisation. Others see it as a response to recent economic crises that revealed vulnerable sectors of society. And still others see it as governments pandering to voters. Whatever the reasons, it is a strong and growing trend. Some recent examples:
- India rolled out a new welfare scheme for the poor in January. $58 billion will be handed out in cash directly to beneficiaries’ bank accounts.
- Indonesia says it plans to launch a nationwide health insurance scheme in early 2014 to cover all citizens.
- This year’s Singapore budget had various welfare measures, such as the Wage Credit Scheme, the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme and a personal income tax rebate.
- In 2009, Nepal lowered the social pension eligibility age from 75 to 70.
- Thailand has implemented a type of universal health coverage in the past decade, the so-called “30-baht scheme.”