Social Protection and Investment for A Better Quality of Life

Date 2014-05-22 Category Woman & Welfare Updater scaadmin
Welfare Policy Division
Last Update


The Seoul Welfare Standard aims to improve the welfare of the citizens of Seoul in five major areas: income, housing, care, health, and education.  The charter was adopted in October 2012 as a protector of people’s basic livelihood, an enabler of civic integration, and a driver of social development.  The charter was the first of its kind in South Korea, defining both minimum and decent standards of welfare. Following the charter’s adoption, the City government now supports 190,000 citizens in need.
The project was a 2013 winner of the United Nations Public Service Award. 


Citizens Losing Hope because their Quality of Life is far below the Level of the National Economic Development

  • Average housing price: 477 million KRW in Seoul, 260 million KRW nationwide, and172 million KRW in metropolitan cities

Negative Consequences of the National Development Drive: Income Polarization and Regional Imbalances

  • Average monthly education cost: 550 million KRW in Seoul, 474 million KRW nationwide, 322 million KRW in counties

  • Average monthly income: 380 million KRW in the Southeast and 300 million KRW in the Northeast, where Seoul is located

  • Happiness index (on a scale of 10): 7.24 in the Southeast, and 6.10 in the Northeast

Provision of Selective Welfare based on National Standards discounting the Characteristics of Seoul
Low Satisfaction with Welfare Policies Made without Social Consensus
The Seoul Welfare Standard addressed the need to improve public welfare and living conditions in Seoul and increase civic participation for the city’s citizens.


The Seoul Welfare Standard sought to set both minimum and decent standards across five major areas related to public welfare through dialogue between City government officials, public citizens, researchers, and a support task force.  A central goal of the project was to enable all citizens’ participation, collect public opinion, and reach social consensus. 

The individual objectives of the project, by category, include:

  Minimum Level Proper Level
Income Standard
The minimum income level needed to live a healthy, cultural life in Seoul A household income of more than 50% of the median household income in the city
Housing Standard
A rent payment less than 30% of one’s income. A living space of more than 43㎡ for a 4-person household A rent payment less than 25% of one’s income. A living space of more than 54㎡ for a 4-person household
Care Standard
Child/senior care expenses not exceeding 10% of the household income The child/senior care services available within 10 minutes. The care quality equals to the average of OECD countries
Health Standard
No citizen not receiving medical services for economic or geographical reasons The citizens’ health level above the OECD average. Regional health gaps to be eliminated
Education Standard
Educational costs to be reduced. Every citizen will enjoy the basic right to a school age The quality of mandatory education to be upgraded to the OECD average. Adults’ life-long educational opportunities to be expanded

The expectation is that the improvement of these outcomes will boost the city’s economy.  Expansion of public welfare expenditures should lead to improved quality of labor, which will promote the domestic market, create jobs, and lead to economic growth. 


The development of the Seoul Welfare Standard began in February 2012 with an academic research project and the formation of the Seoul Welfare Standard Committee. Six groups and events contributed to the draft of the Standard: The Seoul Welfare Committee, policy workshops and a 1,075-person roundtable, a support task force, citizens (109 opinions gathered online), researchers, and the Seoul Welfare Meari Corps (a citizen panelist group).
Policy workshops were held from May to June, 2012, with 594 participants and 278 ideas proposed. In August, 1,075 people participated in a roundtable to make final edits to the Standard. The final draft was completed by September, and the Standard was announced and adopted in October.
Throughout the process, the City built a cooperative system of engagement among citizens, experts, and public servants and defined their roles clearly. The City introduced a groundbreaking method to enable wider civic participation and to collect people’s opinions and reach social consensus.


Initial Investment (As of 2012)

  • Total : 542,419 ($)  /  571,818,000 (KRW)

    • general operation cost : 230,032 ($)  /  242,500,000(KRW)

    • research and development cost : 312,386 ($)  /  329,318,000(KRW)

Annual Budget

Total :1.946 trillion
City Budget : 1.102 trillion
National Budget : 161 billion
Office Education’s Budget : 683 billiion
Total : 2.747 trillion
City Budget : 1.441 trillion
National Budget : 180 billion
Office Education’s Budget : 1.116 trillion


  • Elimination of Welfare Blind Spots and Shift to a Universal Welfare Regime

  • Policy focus switched from “development” to “people”

  • Communication with citizens now plays a bigger role in government decision-making. Policy decisions are less bureaucratic.

  • Citizens participate in implementing the policy.


  • February 1, 2012: Development of Seoul Welfare Standard begins with an academic research project.

  • February 14, 2012: The Seoul Welfare Standard Committee is launched.

  • April 10, 2012: The first draft of the Seoul Welfare Standard is written.

  • May 2012: Six policy workshops are help, comprising 594 participants. Opinions on the first draft of the Standard are gathered.

  • May-July 2012: Feasibility review of the first draft of the Standard.

  • August 2012: Roundtable held with 1,075 participants; consensus-building and incorporation of final edits to the Standard.

  • September 2012: Final draft completed.

  • October 2012: The final version of the Seoul Welfare Standard is announced and adopted.

  • April 2013- : Quarterly Reporting of Evaluation Result.


  • 『Seoul Citizen’s Welfare Standard』 Establishment Master Plan (Initiative of Mayor No.21 11.2.2)

  • 『Seoul Citizens’ Welfare Standards』 Establishment Plan (Initiative of Mayor No.399, 12.12.18)

  • 『2013 Seoul Citizens’ Welfare Standards』 Implementation Evaluation & Management Plan (Initiative of Deputy Mayor No.14, 13.1.21)

※ As the costs of most of the programs selected by the Seoul Welfare Standard are to be shared by the central government, the Seoul city government's policy alone cannot fully actualize the Standard. Therefore, there is a need for the central government to expand the welfare budget and reform the relevant laws and systems.


In the past, the City government struggled to encourage citizens to engage voluntarily.  For this project, the City used various on- and off-line promotion methods as much as possible.  To prevent interest groups from dominating specific issues at policy meetings, the City allocated participants evenly per table by analyzing their gender, age, location, educational background, job, etc., and assigned a facilitator to each table to mediate the meeting.  In order to ensure that ideas moved beyond idealistic suggestions and into reality, the committee prioritized through 162 meetings and discussions.


The Seoul Citizens’ Welfare Standards were completed with the input of a minimum level of fiscal resources and a maximum level of human and technical resources. Fiscally, research expenses and office operation costs were all that the city had to pay. The rest was done through the voluntary services of many citizens and experts. So, if the system which enables voluntary participation by citizens would be set up, and the civil servants’ administrative knowledge and policy review efforts would be added, the successful completion of the standards will be derived even if the given condition and situation are different among the cities.






Department / Contact

  • International Relations Division  /  82-2-2133-5264  /  international@seoul.go.kr
  • Global Future Research Center  /  82-2-2149-1418  /  ssunha@si.re.kr