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Beyond Special Privileges: The Discretionary Treatment of Ethnic Minorities in China's Welfare System



The social welfare of ethnic minorities is a contested subject with a deep politicalised history in contemporary China. This article uses a new large dataset solely looking at ethnic minorities in China, to analyse the impact and outcomes that new urban social and welfare schemes – with notable attention to the basic medical insurance, and the minimum livelihood guarantee allowance (dibao) – have on the livelihoods of minorities. The data suggests that, contrary to the pro-minority rhetoric of the state, minority participation in social welfare programmes is predicated on the incentive set of local government officials. These findings have strong implications for constructing future social welfare policies, and for understanding their potential differential impact on ethnic minority cohorts.



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Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-social-policy
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