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A Study on the Redefinition of Central-Local Welfare Relationship in the Decentralization Era

Seung-yun KimㆍDong-yeol Jang


South Korea has continuing conflicts between central and local government social welfare roles. The reason for this conflict is as follows: First, social welfare expenditures of the central and local governments have increased to such an extent that it is difficult to cope with current financial situation due to the rapid expansion of social welfare policies. Second, the roles and responsibilities between the central government and local governments for social welfare affairs and finance have not been clearly established. Third, the central government unilaterally decides major items such as the contents of the subsidy project and financial allocation, and there is no procedure for local governments to participate in the decision process. As a result, local autonomous entities that have taken over the financial burdens for the programs determined by the central government continue to express their grievances.


The aim of this study is to point out the limit of local decentralization in Korea and to suggest a new intergovernmental relationship through discussions on the direction of decentralization of social welfare. To this end, we diagnose the problems of the distribution of social welfare affairs and finance between the central government and the municipalities, which hinders the decentralization of social welfare. And to suggest the policy tasks that should be improved for the role allocation between the desirable central government and the local autonomous entities.


In this study, we proposed a way to distribute the administrative authority of the central government to the local government and to exercise the power in the form of negotiation with the local government. In addition, we argued that it is necessary to redistribute social welfare programs in which national subsidies are concentrated. It is to strengthen the responsibilities of the state for projects where national standards and demand are important, and to strengthen the responsibilities of local governments for projects where regional characteristics and diversity are important. If the authority and role of social welfare projects are allocated, it can be responsible for result of financial and projects. In conclusion, the new intergovernmental relationship should move towards ‘Managed decentralization’.



01 Introduction

1_The Background and Necessity of Study

2_The Purpose and Composition of Study


02 Actual State of Allocation of Social Welfare Affairs and Finance

1_The Structure and Problems of the Affairs Allocation of Welfare Projects

2_The Structure and Problems of the Financial Allocation of Welfare Projects


03 Distribution of Social Welfare Roles between Central and Local Governments in Foreign Countries





04 Review Issues for Central-Regional Role Allocation

1_Decentralization and Welfare State

2_Legislative Challenges on Office and Financial Allocation

3_Central-Local Social Welfare Financial Relationship

4_Access to Role Allocation of Intergovernmental Welfare Projects

5_Review for Reallocation of Intergovernmental Welfare Projects




05 Policy Directions and Challenges for Reestablish the Role Sharing of Social Welfare Projects

1_Policy Directions

2_Policy Challenges

3_Concluding Remarks