Skip to main content

Social security, the labour market and public health in the UK and South Korea

A collaboration with the Institute of Welfare State Research (IWSR) at Yonsei University, South Korea, exploring lessons for post-pandemic recovery and reform.



Project status



14 Feb 2022 to 31 Jul 2022

This project was a series of collaborations between the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at the University of Bath and the Institute of Welfare State Research (IWSR) at Yonsei University, South Korea.

The collaborations consisted of several conferences and workshops as well as a series of fellowships, exploring social security, the labour market and public health in the UK and South Korea, and lessons for post-pandemic recovery and reform.

In addition to an academic partnership, the collaboration included knowledge exchange with various government departments and think-tanks, and enabled the development of the capabilities and networks of Early Career Researchers.

Research strands

The project developed research into seven key areas:

1) Lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic for welfare state reform
Under the measures to protect jobs and livelihoods in both countries, such as the UK's 'furlough' scheme and the Republic of Korea's short-term job retention scheme, how well did did these schemes perform? How well did they provide social security and maintaining employment?

2) Automation, technology, employment and the labour share: Tackling inequality and providing inclusive economic growth
Each country has seen a decline in the labour share, and a rise in non-standard employment. Income inequality is relatively high in both countries. What is contributing to this decline? What is the role of in-work benefits and social security in this context?

3) Universal Basic Income: Pilots and political developments in the UK and Republic of Korea
Interest in Universal Basic Income has risen during the Covid-19 pandemic, with several pilots planned or have taken place recently, such as in the Gyeonggi Province in South Korea, and two proposed by the Scottish and Welsh governments. What lessons can be learnt from the evaluations in South Korea? What has been proposed for the pilots in Scotland and Wales?

4) The social investment state in the UK and Korea, pre-and-post-pandemic: Prospects and public policy options
Do social investment strategies ensure minimum levels of social protection? What are the political-economic institutions favouring social investment?

5) Young people, post-compulsory education and the future of the labour market
What happened to the youth labour market during Covid-19? What reforms have occurred to vocational training? What issues are there amongst graduate unemployment?

6) Pensions and social care reform: A new gerontocracy or poverty in retirement?
Korea is a rapidly ageing society, and the UK has a relatively low rate of Basic State Pension. What proposals for reforms into the funding and provisional of social care is there? What is the political economy of old age?

7) Employment, social security and public health: strengthening resilience to pandemics
What inequalities were there in pandemic resilience? What effect did Covid-19 have on urban planning, employment and public health policy?




Our funder

Contact us

Get in touch