Welfare regimes in Asia: convergent or divergent?

While existing scholarship predominantly focuses on the evolution of welfare regimes in advanced Western economies, there has been limited investigation into the trajectories of such systems in the Asia-Pacific region. This study presents a nuanced analysis of welfare regimes in 20 Asian countries, examining their transformation since the 2000s through principle component analysis and clustering algorithms. Contrary to the predictions of comparative political economy and international political economy theories, the findings reveal that these nations neither exhibit a strict divergence in welfare patterns nor converge strictly towards market-driven commodification. Instead, they adopt a balanced approach, harmonizing elements of both commodification and decommodification. This flexibility allows them to navigate complex challenges, including productivity competition, external shocks, and internal inequality. The study suggests that this balanced approach may act as a positive feedback mechanism, enabling these countries to adapt to both global economic pressures and domestic social imperatives.