This article explores the political underpinnings of pension reforms in post-democratization South Korea. Contrary to the view of the traditional literature on East Asian welfare states, we argue that electoral competition plays an important role in driving pension reforms, as tax-based old-age cash transfers were initiated by conservative parties, and implemented under the conservative government of Park Geun-hye in South Korea. When older voters comprise the core constituency of the conservative party and electoral competition is intense between liberals and conservatives, the conservative party is likely to promote social policy that targets the elderly in general, and the expansion of pension benefits in particular. Our case study of electoral competition in South Korea reveals that the conservative party’s electoral incentives to maximize their core voters’ support, drove the introduction of a tax-based, old-age basic pension.
Ⅱ. Electoral Competition and Conservative Party led Pension Reform
Ⅲ. Elderly Voters and Electoral Politics in Korea
Ⅳ. Explaining the Politics of Pension Reform in South Korea