Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

Yang Zhong

Committee Members

David L. Feldman, Ian Down, Mary Rogge


In this dissertation I introduce an institutional approach for the research of the Chinese welfare state and the measure of people’s welfare benefit. I demonstrate that multiple institutional transitions due to the economic reforms initiated in the early 1980s have since dramatically changed the Chinese welfare state and the way welfare benefits are distributed. Multiple institutional transitions discussed in this dissertation are structural changes associated with the state-owned enterprise (SOE) reforms, the rapid industrialization, ever-growing urbanization, and large-scale decentralization of the fiscal system. Through the exploration of the data from the 1988 and 1995 Chinese Household Income Project (CHIP), I found that SOE reforms and the fiscal decentralization played a significant role in the cutback of welfare benefit in the reform era. Employees in nonstate sectors and drawing welfare benefits from local welfare funds are more likely to receive less welfare benefits from the state or the work unit than those people employed in the state sector and drawing welfare benefits from state funds. The other two institutional changes, namely industrialization and urbanization, are not statistically significant.

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