The legitimacy of social policies has gained increasing attention in the past decade, against the backdrop of fiscal austerity and retrenchment in many nations. Policy legitimacy encompasses public preferences for the underlying principles of policies and the actual outcomes as perceived by citizens. Scholarly knowledge concerning the legitimacy of health policy – a major element of modern social policy architecture – is, unfortunately, limited. This article seeks to extend the scholarly debates on health policy legitimacy from the West to Hong Kong, a member of the East Asian welfare state cluster. A bi‐dimensional definition of health policy legitimacy – encompassing both public satisfaction with the health system and the normative expectation as to the extent of state involvement in health care – is adopted. Based on analysis of data collected from a telephone survey of adult Hong Kong citizens between late 2014 and early 2015, the findings of this study demonstrate a fairly high level of satisfaction with the territory's health system, but popular support for government responsibility presents a clear residual characteristic. The study also tests the self‐interest thesis and the ideology thesis – major theoretical frameworks for explaining social policy legitimacy – in the Hong Kong context. Egalitarian ideology and trust in government are closely related to both public satisfaction with the system and popular support for governmental provision of care. However, the self‐interest thesis receives partial support. The findings are interpreted in the context of Hong Kong's health system arrangements, while implications for the territory's ongoing health policy reform are discussed. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
CitationHe, A. J. (2018). Public satisfaction with the health system and popular support for state involvement in an East Asian welfare regime: Health policy legitimacy of Hong Kong. Social Policy & Administration, 52(3), 750-770. doi: 10.1111/spol.12274
- Policy legitimacy
- Popular support
- Health policy
- Hong Kong