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East Asian welfare model refocus? A case study on economic support for the elderly living alone in Taiwan


William DH Li, Department of Sociology and Public Affairs, National Dong Hwa University, Shoufeng, Hualien 97401, Taiwan



This article argues that the concept of the East Asian welfare regime can be further developed by examining the changing role of the family in welfare provision. Beginning with a brief literature review of the East Asian welfare model, the family has been regarded as the main welfare provider among East Asian societies. Nevertheless, from a policy-centred perspective, the oversimplified picture of the East Asian welfare model does not reveal how families actually perform in welfare provision or how the dynamic change in the welfare mix for vulnerable groups under the welfare regime has been accommodated. This article presents a case study and shows that while most elderly people in Taiwan still live with their children, who are also their main means of support, a significant number of them are living alone and that much of the economic support they used to receive from nongovernmental organisation now comes from the state.