Title

Re-thinking the incrementalist thesis in China : a reflection on the development of the minimum standard of living scheme in urban and rural areas

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Journal of Social Policy

Publication Date

10-2010

Volume

39

Issue

4

First Page

627

Last Page

645

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Abstract

Many commentators contend that the Chinese government adopted an incremental approach to welfare policy reform because its leaders lacked an overall blueprint for it, allowing initiatives to be implemented only after lengthy experimentation. While this perspective has provided an essential account of the implementation and changes of some welfare programmes, it has inadequately addressed the slow progress in rural areas' welfare programmes and the different welfare entitlements for rural and urban residents. Further investigation is therefore required to resolve these anomalies. Using the minimum standard of living scheme (MSLS) as a case example, this article illustrates how the Chinese government's legitimacy needs, during different stages of its economic reforms, have been the principal motivation for the implementation of such schemes. The introduction of an urban MSLS in 1997 aimed to reduce laid-off workers' dissatisfaction following the government's reforms of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The implementation of a rural MSLS in 2007 was intended principally to minimise conflicts between land-losing farmers and local officials after widespread rural riots. These MSLSs are also minimal and stigmatising public-assistance schemes that fulfil the dual objective of securing a stable political environment for economic reform and maintaining poor people's work ethic for China's mixed economy.

DOI

10.1017/S0047279410000322

Print ISSN

00472794

E-ISSN

14697823

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2010 Cambridge University Press. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Language

English

Recommended Citation

Chan, C. K. (2010). Re-thinking the incrementalist thesis in China: A reflection on the development of the minimum standard of living scheme in urban and rural areas. Journal of Social Policy, 39(4), 627-645. doi: 10.1017/S0047279410000322

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