Beyond Western Influences: Development and Reforms of Social Protection and Pension Schemes in China since 1978

Over the past 40 years, a modern welfare state has emerged in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Social protection has thereby extended from a selected group of privileged state employees and civil servants to most of the population. This dissertation argues that the significant extension of social protection, and of pension schemes in particular, is not only a consequence of domestic economic development and political reform; international influences also manifested themselves during the course of the development and reforms of the Chinese social protection system. The key research question is: How have international influences impacted on Chinese social security and pension reform? Theoretically, this dissertation builds on the policy learning literature as well as the concept of East Asian welfare productivism to explain how international influences impacted on Chinese social protection expansion and reforms and to better understand welfare features the PRC shares with its East Asian neighbors. This cumulative dissertation consists of four interdependent articles focusing on the development and expansion of Chinese social protection under international influences, and especially on the two major reforms of Chinese pension schemes: the 1990s Urban Employee Pension Reforms, and the 2009 New Rural Pension Scheme.