160 pages | 2 B/W Illus.
This book argues that a major potential source of social tension in transition and developing countries is not poverty as such, but vulnerability: that is, the risk of becoming poor. It demonstrates how in China many of the recent reforms to the public sector, such as decentralisation from central to local government, especially fiscal decentralisation; the reduction in public services provided by the state; the increasing practice of local government of charging fees for basic services which were previously free; de-collectivisation of the rural commune system and market sector experimentation in Economic Processing Zones have made many households extremely vulnerable to poverty. Having to find funds to pay for health and education leaves the households exposed should macro-economic fluctuations related to factors – such as trade, resource imports, and financial volatility – have an adverse impact on the Chinese economy overall. The book argues that to become less vulnerable to macroeconomic shocks China would need to shift from an export-oriented development strategy to a domestic consumer-demand driven development strategy, and this would need to be supported by public sector reforms: strengthening of public service provisions in the health and the education sectors as well as expanding social security programs. The book discusses these problems, relates them to the economic literature and outlines the likely consequences.
'This book is an exceptional work providing an in-depth analysis of China’s economic and social development in recent decades… In addition to a solid investigation into some empirical facts on China, the author develops many meaningful policy suggestions to Chinese policy makers. The book is an essential reference on the political economy of China, which may be useful to policymakers, scholars, and journalists. The book may be helpful to relevant courses in the areas of the political economy of China, social policy in China and public sector reforms in China.' - Alfred M. Wu; J OF CHIN POLIT SCI (2013).
Part I: General Introduction on the Developmental Challenges of China 1: China’s reforms in transition and development perspective 2: The evolution of poverty and inequality since the opening-up period Part II: Managing Vulnerability and Increasing Livelihood Opportunities 3: Macroeconomic vulnerability and managing the risk of inter-dependence 4: Reducing household vulnerability and increasing livelihood opportunities 5: Estimating regional vulnerability and inequality Part III: Public Sector Reforms, Fiscal Decentralization and Social Security 6: Fiscal decentralization and public service provision reforms 7: Establishment and expansion of social security 8: The impact of public sector reforms on vulnerability