By Ming-kwan Lee
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Additional resources for Chinese Occupational Welfare in Market Transition.
Clearly not all of these perspectives are relevant for understanding the origins of occupational welfare in China. Internal labour markets, for instance, presuppose profit-seeking firms and external labour markets characterized by competition and mobility. Such capitalist institutions are largely non-existent in the planned economy. Indeed, before 1978, Chinese leaders ideologically rejected these institutions. They believed in the superiority of a planned socialist economy and were unwilling to grant ideological legitimacy to a labour market for state enterprises (Davis 1990: 88).
How are they reacting Page 2 to these changes? These and related questions will engage and configure discussion in the chapters to follow. 4 With few exceptions these are the prerogatives of the private sector (Rein and Rainwater 1986: 7). Entitlement to occupational welfare is based not on citizenship, but on the job status which applies to selected groups of the working population according to merit, work performance and productivity (Abel-Smith and Titmuss 1974: 31; Taylor-Goodby and Dale 1981: 159–60).
The iron rice bowl – a unique package of near-permanent employment and occupational welfare for urban state-sector employees – is among the institutions that have been dismantled. From the 1950s China had developed a system of occupational welfare which provided comprehensive cradle to grave benefits and services to urban state-sector employees. Millions depended on their work-units, the danwei, for health insurance, retirement pensions, housing, various kinds of subsidies both in cash and in kind, various collective facilities and services such as nurseries, staff canteens, clinics, bathing facilities and, in large units, schools and hospitals.