Over the past two decades, China has rapidly increased its
spending on its public pension programs, to the point that pension
funding is one of the government's largest expenditures. Despite
this, only about fifty million citizens-one-third of the country's
population above the age of sixty-receive pensions. Combined with
the growing and increasingly violent unrest over inequalities
brought about by China's reform model, the escalating costs of an
aging society have brought the Chinese political leadership to a
critical juncture in its economic and social policies.
In Socialist Insecurity, Mark W. Frazier explores
pension policy in the People's Republic of China, arguing that the
government's push to expand pension and health insurance coverage
to urban residents and rural migrants has not reduced, but rather
reproduced, economic inequalities. He explains this apparent
paradox by analyzing the decisions of the political actors
responsible for pension reform: urban officials and state-owned
enterprise managers. Frazier shows that China's highly
decentralized pension administration both encourages the "grabbing
hand" of local officials to collect large amounts of pension and
other social insurance revenue and compels redistribution of these
revenues to urban pensioners, a crucial political constituency.
More broadly, Socialist Insecurity shows that the
inequalities of welfare policy put China in the same quandary as
other large uneven developers-countries that have succeeded in
achieving rapid growth but with growing economic inequalities.
While most explanations of the formation and expansion of welfare
states are derived from experience in today's mature welfare
systems, developing countries such as China, Frazier argues,
provide new terrain to explore how welfare programs evolve, who
drives the process, and who sees the greatest benefit.
Subjects: Political Science
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.