Please provide a brief summary of the initiative including the problems/challenges it addressed and the solutions that the initiative introduced (300 words maximum)
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, it says “Nation has a responsibility to secure social security and welfare promotion”. Welfare is the duty of the country and the right of the people. To implement the principles, Seongnam City has designed and implemented ‘the Three Free Welfare Projects’.
It is a universal welfare policy that providing benefits to the recipient without any burden. And it divides into three parts.
First part is ‘the ante-and-post natal care support project’. South Korea rapidly becomes a low fertility and population ageing society. Due to the increase of economic pressure to have and raise a child, people start to avoid getting married or giving a birth. Therefore, the support of ante-and-post natal care for both mother and child is needed to reduce the economic burden.
Second part is ‘free school uniform project’. School uniform is mandatory for the student according to the school policy in Korea. Usually the conglomerates are in the market of producing and selling it. Once, the price skyrocketed to almost 700 USD to buy one and it became a huge burden to the parents. To lessen the burden of educational expenses, Seongnam City promoted free school uniform project which is giving them a fund to buy the uniform targeting every first grade middle school students. In case of high school students, the first grade one from low income family is eligible to get the fund.
Third part is ‘the Youth Dividend’. The youth will be the one who’s going to lead our society against the era of low fertility and population ageing. Unfortunately, there are rare welfare policies for them. By providing them a quarterly dividend as a form of basic income, the goal is to get them encouraged and motivated to strengthen abilities and find a job.
a. What are the overall objectives of the initiative?
Please describe the overall objectives of the initiative (200 words maximum)
The Three Free Welfare Projects aim to provide fair welfare benefits regardless of the gender and income if the recipient meets general standards. The details are like the following.
First, the ante-and-post natal care project, which gives customized care for the mother from pregnancy to afterbirth, aims to reduce the burden and protect the health because it is a duty of government to take responsibility for low fertility issue.
Second, the free school uniform project is providing a fund to buy the uniform for the first grade of middle students, who are the target of compulsory education, and the first grade of high school students from low income family so that the publicity and welfare of education get improved and the parents lessens their educational pressure.
Third, the Youth Dividend as a basic income project is providing a quarterly dividend so that the youth can have support in time and money and emotional stability to strengthen competence and seek for a job that they are looking for.
b. How does the initiative fit within the selected category?
Please describe how the initiative is linked to the criteria of the category (200 words maximum)
The most of existing welfare policies are selective to support the low income family and the vulnerable. Our three projects are based on the right not to be discriminated. It is the universal welfare policy to realize the ideology of public interests which is what the public service has to do.
The recipient can visit the closest local community service center or get access to the internet to apply for the project which makes the public service delivery as easy as possible for the citizen.
In case of school uniform project, the city committed research service by professional researchers. In case of the Youth Dividend, the city accepted the proposal by the professionals as one of policy research projects. With thorough feasibility study, the Youth Dividend got out of the world.
To secure the accountability of public service delivery, the city is posting a notice about the project with the form of poster, banner and even on the official city website. Especially, in case of the Youth Dividend, the notice goes to every eligible recipient’s address by mail.
The initiative should improve people’s lives, notably by enhancing the contribution of public services to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the realization of the SDGs
a. Please explain how the initiative improves the delivery of public services (200 words maximum)
The Three Free Welfare Projects are fairly given to the people regardless of the gender, age and income if they meet general standards.
First, the city provided 615 million USD as ante-and-post natal care fund to 13,806 mothers in the past two years in order to protect the health of mother and baby and to ease the economic burden. The fund is given as a form of local voucher.
Second, the city provided 458 million USD as school uniform fund to 17,302 students in the first grade of middle and high school over the past two years in order to improve the publicity and welfare of education and to ease the economic burden from the parents.
Third, the city provided 2 billion USD as the Youth Dividend to 28,927 people in the age of 24 for last two years in order to give them financial and mental support to improve competence and chance to search for a job.
The initiative must impact positively a group or groups of the population (i.e. children, women, elderly, people with disability, etc) and address a significant issue of public service delivery within the context of a given country or region.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant issue related to the delivery of public services (200 words maximum)
First, the ante-and-post natal care project brings a new paradigm of childbirth policy in Korea as the public sector actively takes the responsibility of low fertility issue and provides a customized care for the mother from pregnancy to after birth.
Second, the free school uniform project brings an agenda to the public that the student also needed to be the target of welfare system. The compulsory education includes primary and secondary education and this can be a burden to the student and the parents because it means middle school uniform is also mandatory, which can be signified as a public burden. The city as a local government tried to lessen it by taking responsibility about this issue as a public sector.
Third, the Youth Dividend started aiming to encourage the young generation and it helped to boost their self-respect. Some part of the dividend decreased the amount of time of part-time for living and some part of it used as money to strengthen abilities for competence. Like this, the Youth Dividend presented a new path to walk on and inspired the public sector to consider how to improve youth policies.
b. Please explain how the initiative has impacted positively a group or groups of the population within the context of your country or region (200 words maximum)
If the mother is not in the low income family, there is no support for after birth by the central government. By supporting them as a level of local government, the mother and baby get to be able to buy necessary materials. Also the mother can get appropriate treatment about postnatal depression which contributed to improve the physical and mental health.
The school uniform project eased the burden of the parents. Even more it realized universal welfare in education as expanding the target from the specific group (low income family) to the whole (every first grade student). Also, the city made it possible that not only the children, elder, and disabled but also the student get the welfare support under the government protection.
Through the Youth Dividend, the city brought a new paradigm in welfare system for the youth which providing them with quarterly fund as a concept of basic income. It is beyond the limit of existing employment-centered youth policies by funding them to get more mental, financial and time support.
The initiative must present an innovative idea, a distinctively new approach, or a unique policy or approach implemented in order to realize the SDGs in the context of a given country or region.
a. Please explain in which way the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region (200 words maximum)
First, nevertheless the central government was severely against Seongnam’s welfare policies, the city successfully implemented with its own financial resources and administrative organization. It was the true realization of local sovereignty in Korea where the power is centralized.
Second, it is a universal welfare which anyone can get benefit regardless of the gender and income when they meet simple basic condition. It overcomes the limit of current selective welfare system which only targeting the vulnerable.
Third, the city opened a new path of welfare by implementing the Youth Dividend as a form of basic income for the young generation when there were insufficient policies for them.
Fourth, the project fund is given as a local voucher. It increased the actual disposable income of the recipient and it led to the increase of sales of small business owners in the city. Ultimately, the fruitful and meaningful outcome, which is the revitalization of the local economy, has come.
Fifth, the Three plus One policy is preventing corruption, budget waste and tax evasion to secure a sound finance. It played a key role of being required materials to implement the three projects.
b. Please describe if the innovation is original or if it is an adaptation from other contexts (If it is known)? (200 words maximum)
First, the ante-and-post natal project has designed and implemented by Seongnam City for the first time in Korea. It aims to take the burden off from the family and to help the low fertility issue.
Second, the free school uniform project is to provide a fund to buy the uniform for every first grade student in the middle school and the first grade high school student who is from low income family in order to make the economic burden less. Especially, the project for the middle school students is the one which the city has designed and implemented for the first time in Korea.
Third, also the city has introduced the concept of the Youth Dividend as a form of basic income for the young generation for the first time in Korea in order to encourage them to have mental, financial and time support when there were rare policies to support them.
c. What resources (i.e. financial, human , material or other resources, etc) were used to implement the initiative? (200 words maximum)
The general operator of three projects is Seongnam City. There are project management organizations in each project; the ante-and-post natal care is in charge of Jungwon-region Health Center, the free school uniform is in charge of Education and Youth Department in the City Hall and the Youth Dividend is in charge of Social Welfare Department in the City Hall. Also to secure efficiency in implementation and management, 3 ward offices and 51 community service centers are working together.
The budget spend over last two years are like the following. The ante-and-post natal care took 615 million USD, the free school uniform took 458 million USD and the Youth Dividend took 2 billion USD. The total was 3 billion USD which got fully supported by city’s own budget.
The way to prepare resources to implement these projects is based on the Three plus One policy. It is getting rid of corruption, budget waste and tax evasion to secure a sound finance. Also the city prioritized welfare projects first and put behind unnecessary projects to save the budget.
The initiative should be adaptable to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions). There may already be evidence that it has inspired similar innovations in other public-sector institutions within a given country, region or at the global level.
a. Has the initiative been transferred to other contexts?
First, the ante-and-post natal care project has inspired two cities to make similar projects; first one is ‘the Childbirth Congratulatory Family Gift Project’ by Seoul since 2018 and the other is the Childbirth Congratulatory Gift Project’ by Yongin City in Gyeonggi-do Province.
Second, the free school uniform project has inspired several cities in the same Gyeonggi-do Province such as Yongin, Gwangmyeong, Anseong and Gwacheon for promoting similar school uniform support projects. Even more, the impact gets expanded to the national level.
Third, the Youth Dividend has directly inspired four local governments such as Gwangjin-ward office in Seoul. They learnt and adopted the project into their system. In July 2016, ‘Basic Income International Symposium’ got held in the city and made its case presentation. In October 2016, there was ‘Autumn International Seminar of Korean Culture & Humanity Academy’ held in Jeju Island. The city presented its case of basic income to the world and drew lots of attention from the media.
The initiative should be able to be sustained over a significant period of time.
a. Please describe whether and how the initiative is sustainable (covering the social, economic and environmental aspects) (300 words maximum)
The target of selective welfare policies which has been dominant are only focusing on the vulnerable and the super-poor. It means the centralization for welfare policies, however, it might lead to bring the relative deprivation to the others.
The Three Free Welfare Projects are giving the benefits to the large volume of recipients regardless of the gender, age, income and whether they had a disability if they meet simple general standards. Of course, the socially disadvantaged are included in the project target. The fair welfare policy is to prevent social resistance, to get the full backing support by the citizen and to create sustainable policy environment.
The projects are able to continuously go on because these are fully based on the city budget without any help from the central government. Two policies, one is the Three plus One policy of preventing corruption, budget waste and tax evasion to secure a sound finance and the other is the prioritizing welfare policies, are the important key to make the projects available to prepare necessary financial resources to implement. The sustainable environment of the three projects is created by the strong will of City Mayor, city officials and the citizen to make stable and sound finance.
To learn and adopt these projects, not only public sectors but also academic sectors and civil society groups are coming to the city. Furthermore, the domestic and international attentions are skyrocketingly drawn due to the case presentation at the international symposium and academic conference. Like above, the city is promoting a stable environment to implement the policy by bonding the consensus of best projects that the city has.
b. Please describe whether and how the initiative is sustainable in terms of durability in time (300 words maximum)
First, South Korea dramatically becomes a low fertility and population ageing society due to the difficulty in getting a job, skyrocketed housing price and expensive private education expenses with the decline of public education ability. People tend to avoid getting married and having a child with the economic pressures demonstrated above. Seongnam City is trying to solve these social problems by providing the ante-and-post natal care for the mother to lessen the economic burdens and boost the fertility rate up.
Second, the middle and high school students in Korea have to wear school uniform because it is mandatory under the school policy. From 2011, Seongnam City implemented the school uniform support fund for the students from low income family to ease the burden. Moreover, since 2016, the target has been expanded to every first grade middle school student whose education is the compulsory one. In 2018, the city is in the process of having a consultation with the city council to make up budget and provide the fund to every first grade high school student.
Third, currently Seongnam City is providing the Youth Dividend only to the 24-year-old. In the future, the city is planning to expand the target’s age from 19 to 24. Moreover, the city is also designing the Teenage Dividend for the students aged between 16 and 18. The amount of dividend per student will be 500 USD a year. The Citizen Dividend is also under consideration to be implemented. Due to the housing site development project, there will be almost 17 billion profits to the city. If the plan gets approved, then the city is able to give the profit from the housing project back to the citizen. Then the citizen can get 180 USD per person as a local voucher.
The initiative should have gone through a formal evaluation, showing some evidence of impact on improving people’s lives.
a. Has the initiative been formally evaluated?
If yes, please describe how the initiative was evaluated? (200 words maximum)
First, in case of the ante-and-post natal care project, the city conducted a survey to 434 recipient mothers and the answer that ‘it did help’ took 80.4% in September 2017. It represents that the care fund actually and positively did help the mother to take care of themselves and the baby.
Second, in case of the Youth Dividend, a monitoring implemented among the 2,866 recipient and the answer that ‘it did help’ took 96.3% in April 2016. The next monitoring implemented to figure out if the dividend is successful and actually helps the young generation in substance and the answer ‘yes’ took more than 95% among the 498 recipient in July 2016.
Third, based on the unique three welfare projects, Seongnam City got awarded the grand prize at the Brand of the Year in 2016 which held by the Economist of Joongang Daily and got awarded the Best Public Service prize by Maekyung Media Group in November 2016.
b. Please describe the outcome of the evaluation of the impact of the initiative (200 words maximum)
In case of the ante-and-post natal care project, the result of the survey conducted in September 2017 showed that 43.1% out of 434 mothers who got the fund answered ‘it did help to make a decision about childbirth’ and 61.9% of them answered ‘it did help to promote the fertility’. It represents that the project significantly had the influence to promote the fertility growth.
In case of the Youth Dividend, the result of the monitoring conducted in April 2016, 96.3% of 2,866 recipient answered ‘I’m satisfied with the current standards of living’ and 97.1% of them answered ‘I’m satisfied with the welfare policies of Seongnam’. Continuously, at the second monitoring in June 2016, 94.6% of 498 recipients answered ‘I started to feel the sense of belonging’ and 90.0% of them answered ‘after getting the dividend, I started to have interests in the policies for the youth’.
The project fund is given as a local voucher to the recipient which only acceptable in the city to revitalize the local economy. In 2015, the sales volume of the voucher was 1.2 billion USD and it increased as 2.3 billion USD in 2016.
c. Please describe the indicators that were used (200 words maximum)
First, the following is the indicators to evaluate the ante-and-post natal care project.
a. whether the project helps the postnatal care
b. whether the project considers the life of the family just had a baby
c. what are the purpose of the fund (for example: postnatal care, nutrition care, baby products, living expenses and others)
d. whether the project helps to make a decision about having a child
e. whether the project contributes to increase the fertility rate
Second, the following is the indicators to evaluate the Youth Dividend.
a. how the recipient uses the dividend
b. how the recipient thinks about the amount and the target range
c. whether the project helps the recipient’s standards of living
d. whether the project increases the recipient’s interest rate of the city’s youth policies
e. whether the given local voucher contributes to revitalize the local economy
The initiative must demonstrate that it has engaged various actors such as from other institutions, civil society, or the private sector, when possible.
a. The 2030 Development Agenda puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, coordination, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe what stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative. Please also highlight their roles and contributions (300 words maximum)
In the stage of designing the free school uniform project, socioeconomics researchers executed a research requested from the city government. This project utilizing the uniform producing facilities contributes to create many jobs inside the city. Also, produced uniforms are bought by the citizen and it brings a virtuous economic circle for the economic growth. While implementing the project, there has been constant participation and demanding by the student and the parents.
In the stage of funding, Seongnam Office of Education and 46 middle schools are working together. The recipient is chosen by Seongnam Office of Education and the city got the notice of the list of the recipient. In 2016, when the city pays the fund in a lump sum to the middle school, then the school delivers it to each student. To promote the project, the city and the office of education cooperate with each other.
Every year the city got the policy proposals to actually implement by the professionals and each working department in the city hall. If the proposal gets chosen, the city is thoroughly evaluating the feasibility. The Youth Dividend is started from the proposal. After the feasibility test, it gets implemented for the citizen.
To evaluate the three projects, city carried our surveys to the recipient. On top of that, to get more fair result, an outside special agency is conducting those surveys requested by the city government.
Also, every year the budget of the projects needs to get passed by the City Council. It means the City Council is also taking part in the projects.
a. Please describe the key lessons learned, and any view you have on how to further improve the initiative (200 words maximum)
The target of selective welfare policies which has been dominant are only focusing on the vulnerable and the super-poor. It means the centralization for welfare policies. On the other hand, it might lead to bring the relative deprivation to the others.
The Three Free Welfare Projects are targeting the people regardless of the gender, age, income and whether they had disability if they meet simple standards. It is fair policy which became a pioneer of universal welfare system in Korea.
The projects proposed the leading model of universal welfare for the pregnant woman, the student and the youth. Many institutes inside and outside of Korea are being influenced in a positive way. Most importantly, it significantly contributes to improve the quality of life of human being.
Based on the budget saving and increase of taxation revenue due to the Three plus One policy which is preventing corruption, budget waste and tax evasion to secure a sound finance and the prioritizing policy which putting the welfare policies first, Seongnam City will spare no effort to expand the target of the welfare projects and to develop new projects in a concept of universal welfare.