The Future of Welfare Law in a Changing World: Lessons from Australia and Singapore

15 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2010

See all articles by Terry Carney AO

Terry Carney AO

The University of Sydney Law School


This article analyses the Singaporean tradition of relatively low levels of public expenditure on social security and emphasis on family and personal responsibility through mandatory ‘social account’ investments and tax incentives to promote savings; and the Australian tradition of tax-funded, flat-rate and means tested social security payments for most contingencies. It is suggested that both countries have developed their own particular ‘twists’ on their historic and cultural inheritances (Singapore blending US-style neoliberalism with Confucian reliance on familial self-provision and low tax rates; Australia breaking from a contributory model due to a strong laborist influence). Tentative observations are offered about the degree of path dependence or otherwise of these models and their contribution to debate in countries contemplating ‘parameter changes’ to welfare to accommodate globalisation or fiscal challenges.

Suggested Citation

Carney AO, Terry, The Future of Welfare Law in a Changing World: Lessons from Australia and Singapore. Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, pp. 22-36, July 2010, Available at SSRN:

Terry Carney AO (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

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