Welfare state changes in China since 1949

Authored by: Bingqin Li

Routledge Handbook of the Welfare State

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138631649
eBook ISBN: 9781315207049
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter gives a brief overview of the changes in the welfare policies of China since 1949 when the Communist Party came to power. It shows that the welfare policies in China are centred on two themes: facilitating economic growth and social stability. The two however are intertwined. Social stability to some extent is partially achieved by sustained growth, but not limited to growth. The development of the welfare state plays two roles: picking up the vulnerability exposed by the changes in economic growth; and responding to the social pressure that threatens instability. Despite the fact that China has moved from a command economy pursuing Communist ideology to a market economy following “Socialism with Chinese Characters”, the approaches the state has responded to in changing welfare needs have not really drifted away from economic growth and social stability. What has changed is the understanding of the types of policies and institutions that can help maintain growth and social stability in general, and both are crucial for maintaining the Communist Party’s authority.

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