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Welfare state regimes, infant mortality and life expectancy: integrating evidence from East Asia
  1. Ying-Chih Chuang,
  2. Kun-Yang Chuang,
  3. You-Rong Chen,
  4. Bo-Wen Shi,
  5. Tzu-Hsuan Yang
  1. School of Public Health, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to Professor Kun-Yang Chuang, School of Public Health, Taipei Medical University, 250 Wu Hsing Street, Taipei 110, Taiwan; adinma{at}


Background This longitudinal study builds on the cross-sectional work of Karim et al and examines the influence of welfare state regime on population health with a particular focus on East Asian welfare states (eg, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan).

Methods Data were extracted from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development Data Set, World Development Indicators and Asian Development Bank's key indicators from 1980 to 2006. Infant mortalities and life expectancy were used as health-outcome varables. Thirty-one countries were categorised into six types of welfare regimes: Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, Bismarckian, Southern, Eastern European and East Asian. Mixed models were applied to analyse the data with repeated measurements.

Results In keeping with Karim et al, Scandinavian and Eastern European welfare states have lower and higher infant mortalities respectively compared with East Asian welfare states. Eastern European welfare states had a lower life expectancy than East Asian welfare states. Most welfare states had a higher social, health and education expenditure, and higher densities of physicians than East Asian welfare states.

Conclusion East Asian welfare states did not have worse health than most welfare states. Future studies should continue to incorporate East Asian countries in the typology of welfare regimes that include more social, economic, political and healthcare system characteristic variables to provide insight on the mechanism by which welfare-state regimes influence population health.

  • Welfare states
  • east Asia
  • welfare regimes
  • infant mortalities
  • life expectancy
  • health policy
  • health statistics
  • infant mortality
  • social epidemiology

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  • Funding This study was supported by the National Science Council of Taiwan Grant No 98-2410-H-038-004-MY2 to Y-CC.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval All research was approved by the ethics committee at Taipei Medical University, School of Public Health and conforms to the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.