Chinese Social Policy in a Time of Transition

Edited by Douglas J. Besharov and Karen Baehler


The story of China’s spectacular economic growth is well known. Less well known is the country’s equally dramatic, though not always successful, social policy transition. As China has undergone rapid industrialization and urbanization, its social system has had to confront vast new challenges, including an aging population, changes in traditional family structures (and an increased need for pensions to support the elderly), a growing urban/rural divide in education and the delivery of social services, income inequality, and internal labor migration. To address these and other issues, China has drawn social policy lessons from other countries around the world and developed its own unique policy solutions.

This volume brings together established and emerging scholars from around the world to examine recent policy responses to changing social conditions in China. Comparisons between China’s social policy system and systems in other countries, including India, Korea, the United States, and Vietnam, help place China’s social policy evolution in regional and international context.

Topics covered include poverty alleviation, labor markets and employment policy, internal migration, fiscal federalism, pensions, health care, education, child care, and disability. How has China addressed these pressing, and often interconnected social issues? Which social policies have succeeded, which have not, and why? How have China’s social policies fared in comparison with other “post-socialist” states, particularly Vietnam? What are the prospects for the future of Chinese social policy, as the country continues to grow in both population and economic strength?


Douglas J. Besharov, Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

Karen Baehler, Senior Lecturer, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington