Redistributive Nature of the Chinese Social Benefit System: Progressive or Regressive?


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Using nationally representative household survey data and a revealing statistical method, this article investigates the redistributive nature of the Chinese social benefit system within urban and rural areas respectively and in the national context. Like many other dimensions of Chinese society, the redistributive nature of social benefits appeared to be a two-sided story: urban social benefits were much more generous and predominantly progressive, while rural social benefits were minimal and consistently regressive. The national social benefit system was redistributed regressively, but the extent of its regressivity decreased over time, suggesting an equity-oriented policy direction echoed by several recent government initiatives to support rural residents, migrants and the urban poor. The outcomes of these initiatives, especially their redistributive effects, require close observation and await evaluation.

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