AbstractThis article asks ‘who gets what, when and how’ from China’s recent social welfare expansion. Little research to date examines the overall landscape of China’s social health insurance, which has changed dramatically since 2003, and the distributive consequences and implications thereof. Drawing on public survey data and fieldwork for empirical support, this article finds that China’s recent social health insurance expansion does significantly expand people’s access to social health insurance. However, the expansion, which entails health insurance fragmentation and increasing benefit disparities, not only reinforces existing social cleavages such as the rural–urban divide, but it also generates new divisions within urbanites and workforce. Moreover, multiple social cleavages that cross-cut class differences have been institutionalized into China’s social health insurance system. This reflects authoritarian regimes’ ‘divide and rule’ tactic in social welfare provision.
RightsCopyright for scholarly resources published in RUcore is retained by the copyright holder. By virtue of its appearance in this open access medium, you are free to use this resource, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings. Other uses, such as reproduction or republication, may require the permission of the copyright holder.