chapter  3
26 Pages

Social Protection and the Economic Well-being of Families with Dependent Children in Urban China

ByXiulan Zhang, Yuebin Xu

Since the economic reforms that started in the early 1980s, China’s social policy has been guided by a strong belief in the primacy of economic growth and the role of the family in providing for its members. The reforms started mainly with the purpose to correct the practices of tight control over economic activities by the government and egalitarian distribution. These two factors were widely viewed as contributing to the stagnation and continued decline in the performance of enterprises, generally low working morale, and heavy reliance and burden upon the state for meeting the welfare needs of individuals. As such, the dismantling of the planned economy and the concomitant restructuring of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have been accompanied by a process of the government and enterprises retreating from their welfare responsibilities. For millions of urban residents, this means the removal of the previous ‘cradle to grave’ welfare provided by the omnipotent enterprise. While the success of economic reforms is indisputable in terms of economic growth, a wide array of social problems has also emerged, including widening gaps between the rich and poor and widespread urban poverty.