This paper examines the new urban poverty in China since the deepening of market-oriented reform in the 1990s and argues that the institutional process goes beyond recent market-oriented reforms. Poverty generation is driven by broad economic restructuring and transformation of welfare provision. De-industrialisation and decline in state-owned enterprises have generated a significant number of laid-off workers, forming the new urban poor who are simultaneously confronted with the transformation of welfare provision. The loss of workplace-based entitlement is a direct cause of their poverty or exacerbates their underprivileged conditions. For at least a significant proportion of new urban poor without the hope of returning to the mainstream labour market, the minimum living standard support programme in fact captures them at the edge of survival.
Asia Pacific Viewpoint (2007) 48 (2) 168-185 [doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8373.2007.00343.x]