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Article Dans Une Revue Geopolitica Année : 2017

The Erratic Development of a Welfare State in China


While most economists agree on the need for rebalancing the Chinese economy, this article focuses specifically on the construction of labor welfare policies, which became a priority for Chinese authorities since the mid-2000s. It is argued that the enhancement of workers’ welfare is a critical facet of the coherence of the Chinese socioeconomic system. Redistributing national income to the least well-off households is one the most promising way to reduce the country’s dependency on exports, and to tackle labor discontent within the more comprehensive objective of maintaining “social stability”. Despite significant efforts to develop the social role of the state, inequalities are still on the rise, labor conflicts intensify and the share of household consumption in the GDP remains low. This article sheds light on the discrepancy between the central government’s goals of developing labor welfare and the uneven implementation of social policies on the field. This brings us to combine a political economy analysis of the transformations of the accumulation regime at the national level with research from the fields of sociology, law and political science in order to analyze the way in which national guidelines are reinterpreted locally. Local governments are indeed concerned with their capacity to attract investors and put great efforts in circumventing the measures decided in Beijing. While a strong workers’ movement could foster the establishment of a genuine welfare state, Chinese authorities deprive them of the fundamental collective rights necessary for putting pressure on employers and local officials. The paper concludes that the Xi Jinping administration will encounter difficulties to impose the institutional changes needed to maintain the coherence of the socioeconomic system, as long as the development of an independent workers’ movement remains out of sight.
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hal-02547605 , version 1 (18-12-2020)


  • HAL Id : hal-02547605 , version 1


Clément Séhier. The Erratic Development of a Welfare State in China. Geopolitica, 2017, Geopolitica, 6 (1), pp.91-118. ⟨hal-02547605⟩
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