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  • P-ISSN 1738-656X

한국개발연구. Vol. 34, No. 3, August 2012, pp. 31-65

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Social Welfare Policy Expansion and Generational Equity: Generational Accounting Approach

Young Jun Chun

Author & Article History

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We study the sustainability of the current fiscal policy of Korea, and the effects of the social welfare policy expansion, which has been recently discussed among the political circles, on the government budget and the generational equity, using generational accounting. We follow the generational accounting approach, considering the fact that most of the social welfare policies are the entitlement programs, which imposes the limitation of the policy maker's discretion to control the cost of their provision. The social welfare expenditure will change due to the change in the policy environments of the future, such as population aging. Therefore, we need to take into account the government cash flow of the future as well as of the present to investigate its effects on the fiscal sustainability, which implies that the national debt or the budget balance is not a proper index for the investigation. Our findings are as follows. The current fiscal policies are not sustainable, and the long-term budgetary imbalance is shown very serious. The required tax adjustment, which is defined as the percentage change of tax burden required to attain the long-term budgetary balance, is very large. Unless the level of the government expenditure is properly controlled, the tax burden and the social contribution level will rise to the untolerable level. Moreover, the expansion of the social welfare policies, which has been discussed among the political circles, will substantially increase the fiscal burden of the future generations. Even though the provision of the free lunch to the primary and the secondary school students, the free child care, and the discounted college tuition do not increase the fiscal burden much, because their magnitude at present is not large and will decrease due to the decrease in the number of the newborns and the students resulting from the fall in the fertility rate, that of the free health care service will increase tax burden of the future generations very much, because the magnitude of the government expenditure needed at present is very large and the population aging will further increase the magnitude of the health care expenditure. The findings indicate that the structural reforms, to prevent the explosive increase in the social welfare expenditure in the future, are necessary before the implementation of the welfare policy expansion. In particular, the cost control of the social transfers to the elderly needs to be made, because the speed of the population aging of Korea is among the highest in the world. The findings also indicate that the budget balance or the national debt can cause the fiscal illusion, which makes the Korean government budget look sound, even though the fiscal policy will rapidly increase the social welfare expenditure in the future, as the population ages. The generational accounting, which takes into account the cash flow of the future as well as of the present, unlike the budgetary balance and the national debt, which shows the results of the government financial activities of the past and the present, is a useful method to overcome the fiscal illusion.


인구고령화(Population Aging), 세대 간 회계(Generational Accounting), 사회복지정책(Social Welfare Policy), 세대 간 형평성(Generational Equity), 재정건전성(Fiscal Sustainability)

JEL Code

H60, H63, H53

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