Edinburgh Research Explorer

Historical Continuities in Social assistance in China, 1911 - 2011

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGovernance, Domestic Change, and Social Policy in China
Subtitle of host publication100 Years after the Chinese Xinhai Revolution
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages21-43
ISBN (Print)9781137022844
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2016

Abstract

The century anniversary of the Xinhai revolution offers a good point from which to survey the revolutionary changes which have been wrought on China’s social assistance system. After 1911 the provision of assistance to those most in need has been an on-going concern for the state. Before 1949 efforts were patchy and ineffective but the establishing of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) saw a government with the fiscal and administrative capacity to implement a system of social assistance. Social assistance now affects the lives of millions of urban and rural Chinese in the PRC and the changes made to the system from 1949 through to the 1990s have been radical and far reaching. The reform of the traditional category based social assistance system, first established in 1949, began in the early 1990s with local innovations in funding, administration and delivery and by 2011 there are now means tested systems operating nationwide in both urban and rural areas. In addition there has been significant expansion in participation and the scope of assistance offered over the last 20 years.
This chapter seeks to trace the historical continuities and transformations in social assistance in China since 1911 and is structured to reflect this approach. First, social assistance in China from the late Qing to the early 1990s will be discussed. This will be followed by an examination of the emergence of the urban Minimum Livelihood Guarantee system (zuidi shenghuo baozhang zhidu), the longest running and most significant of the reform era social assistance programs. The next two sections will assess the state of the MLG in 2011 looking at both the available statistical records and discussing the current regulatory framework. Taken together these sections will provide a narrative and analysis of social assistance in China from 1911 to 2011. The chapter concludes by drawing out the themes and offering some interpretations of social assistance in China one hundred years after the 1911 revolution.

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