• Birgitte Egeskov Jensen
English summary

This thesis investigates how the institutional logic of the hukou system has influenced welfare state development and social cohesion in China. The problem is analyzed through a mixed method approach, utilizing quantitative data from respectively World Value Survey for China in 2001, 2007 and 2012, and for Finland in 2005, Sweden in 2006 and Norway in 2007, as well as the International Social Survey Programme for China, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark in 2009. In order to substantiate and elaborate the quantitative findings an interview-survey has been formulated, consisting of open questions, where all answers have been analysed qualitatively. Eight Chinese people, who all grew up in China, have answered the questionnaire fully. The questions mainly relate to the theoretical statements made in relation to chapter 2 (theory) and the results of the quantitative analysis with the aim of gaining a deeper insight into the results hereof.
China has undergone a riveting development in recent decades, both seen from an economic and human development perspective; 5-600 million have been lifted out of poverty and the welfare system has been expanded both in terms of coverage and generosity. Nevertheless, they have not succeeded in abolishing the hukou system; a system perpetuating welfare segregation. The system has in recent times been framed as having been abandoned, and some important dimensions of the hukou system have indeed been abandoned, nonetheless are the welfare provisions for those not holding a local hukou as limited as they have always been and the overall picture of rural citizens as poor and urban citizens as rich remains the same.
The results of the analysis showed that the hukou system has influenced welfare state development in China by fostering two distinct welfare systems. The welfare system is progressive and comprehensive in urban China, while it is regressive and meagre in rural China. The Chinese welfare system is furthermore plagued by an inherent ‘take-up problem’ where rural citizens do not claim benefits they are entitled to, while urban citizens receive better welfare service.
Finally, it was made evident that social cohesion is severely limited in China, as social exclusion is embedded in the hukou system. The Chinese population is divided on such a fundamental level, due to the hukou system, that any traditional deservingness heuristics are not valid. The rural-urban divide overrules any traditional welfare oriented deservingness heuristics that are thought to exist within a population with the same nationality, by severe social exclusion of rural-urban migrant workers. Rural hukou holders are severely restricted from a social rights perspective, their agency freedom is being undermined by the hukou system by barring them from pursuing coveted goals. Furthermore is their capabilities development limited due to discrimination of migrant workers and their children, by denying them access to public welfare goods such as education and healthcare in urban areas.
In order to create inclusive welfare policies and social cohesion in China, there is a need to equalize capabilities development and truly abolish the hukou registration system; albeit due to the byzantine nature of the hukou system and the fragmented social welfare system in China, it is acknowledged by the author of this thesis that any such development will entail a long and complicated process.
LanguageEnglish
Publication date1 Aug 2016
Number of pages66
ID: 234372063