After the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, social protection systems were gradually introduced and now cover many contingencies, including old age, unemployment, healthcare, maternity and occupational injury. However, despite having a comprehensive system for its ‘legal’ urban population, China is only recently extending this system to the much larger rural population.
The system of social protection is in transition, as China attempts to address a rapidly transforming economy and society. Programmes are continually being developed, piloted and extended that aim to address social concerns, for example: increasing unemployment and the ‘informalisation’ of the urban economy; inequalities and income disparities; vulnerability of poor households to sudden shocks; providing social protection for rural-urban migrants without urban hukuo (household registration) status; and an aging population.
China’s social welfare policies are moving in a more equitable direction but as they are quite new, studies tend to report onnly a modest impact. Programmes include: