The statistics detailing the socioeconomic growth of Russia and China are impressive. On some projections, China will be the world’s largest economy by 2050, and Russia will be the sixth largest. Yet despite this impressive record of economic growth, a striking feature of both countries is the inegalitarian nature of their development – notwithstanding the (post)communist legacy. On most conventional measures, the two countries are now among the most unequal in the world, and the level of inequality has increased significantly since the 1990s. What effect does this endemic economic inequality have on political stability? From Aristotle onwards, observers have concluded that the greater the inequality within a society, the greater the likelihood of instability. This book addresses the relationship between economic inequality and political stability in Russia and China. Several chapters examine how economic performance has driven institutional reform, while others evaluate long term trends in public opinion to see how economic change has affected the public’s views of politics. The conclusion is that both regimes have proved adept at adapting to rising inequality by managing the policy agenda, guiding public opinion and co-opting or repressing political opposition. The chapters in this book originally published as a special issue in Europe-Asia Studies.
Economic Inequality and Political Stability in Russia and China Stephen White, Ian McAllister & Neil MunroThe Social Contract Revisited: Evidence from Communist and State Capitalist Economies Linda J. Cook & Martin K. Dimitrov Actual and Perceptual Social Inequality under Transformative Change in Russia and China Elena Danilova Predictors of Support for State Social Welfare Provision in Russia and China Neil Munro Economic Change and Public Support for Democracy in China and Russia Ian McAllister & Stephen White Why do Authoritarian Regimes Provide Public Goods? Policy Communities, External Shocks and Ideas in China’s Rural Social Policy Making Jane Duckett & Guohui Wang