The Hu–Wen era has been characterized as a “lost decade” for economic and political reform, but a “golden era” in terms of economic growth and political stability. Yet, relatively little attention has been paid to the social policies introduced during Hu and Wen's decade in power. These important policies, however, abolished agricultural taxes, extended health insurance, pensions and income support to almost all rural as well as urban residents, and built a civic welfare infrastructure to address migrants’ grievances. These policies, some of which were developed under the preceding Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji leadership, were introduced for a complex mix of reasons. Their aim was not only to reduce inequalities but also to stimulate domestic consumption and sustain economic growth, offset the effects of China's entry to the WTO and the global recession of 2008, and maintain social stability. They were the product of domestic bureaucratic politics and experimentation. They were also strongly influenced by China's integration into the international economy, as well as by international governmental and non-governmental organizations and the ideas they introduced into China's domestic policy networks. Although Hu–Wen era social policy reforms had only limited effects on reducing income inequality and involved complex politics, they did establish for the first time entitlements to social security and safety nets for all China's population.