Facing rapid demographic, social and economic transformation, China has taken steps to extend and strengthen the urban Minimum Living Standard Scheme (MLSS). The MLSS is a social assistance programme initially focused on the chronically poor, but later extended to the long-term unemployed. The extension of the MLSS led to a rise in the number of beneficiaries from 2.6 million in 1999 to 20.6 million in 2002, although long-term poor migrants remain excluded. There has also been a broadening of the MLSS, focused initially on mainly income transfers, but later including education and health exemptions, community work, and housing. This paper outlines these trends and discusses what lessons other developing countries could learn from the extension of social assistance in China.
Extending Social Assistance in China:Lessons from the Minimum LivingStandard Scheme, CPRC Working Paper No. 67, IDPM/Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, ISBN: 1-904049-66-4, ii +19 pp.