Vortrag: Functional Integration of China’s Social Protection. Recent and Long-Term Trends of Institutional Change in Health and Pension Insurance

14.06.2018 | 12:00

Armin Müller (Göttingen)

Since 1979, social protection in China has undergone fundamental institutional transformations. Social protection under the planned economy was characterized by a division between urban and rural areas, decentralization, and companies functioning as enclosed mini-welfare states. Employing the concept of systemic interdependence, this study analyses how frictions between these institutions and the new trends of marketization, urbanization and migration have shaped institutional change in social protection. Using health and pension insurance as an example, it identifies a gradual process of functional integration. This process adapts social protection to marketization through the creation of insurance systems pooling risks between companies and households; it adapts previously separate urban and rural insurance systems to urbanization by integrating them; and it adapts insurance to migration by improving the portability of benefits from the decentralized and formally enclosed local insurance systems. Based on data from administrative documents, official statistics and fieldwork, the study gives an overview over the long-term development trends in health and pension insurance, including new initiatives regarding urban-rural integration and portability. Overall, these trends reinforce an increasing dualization of social protection, with relatively generous benefits for regular employees with formal labour contracts and merely basic protection for the remainder of the population.


Armin Müller has been a postdoc at the Chair of Society and Economy of Modern China at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen since 2015. In 2008, he finished his studies of Political Science, Chinese Studies and Sociology at the University of Tuebingen. At the University of Duisburg-Essen, he wrote my PhD about health insurance in rural China, and subsequently spent a semester with the Transnational Studies Initiative at Harvard working on the social protection of migrants. The focus of his research is on social security, education and other public services in the PRC.

Zeit & Ort

14.06.2018 | 12:00

Neubau "Holzlaube", Room 2.2051

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