Handbook on Urban Development in China
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Handbook on Urban Development in China

Edited by Ray Yep, June Wang and Thomas Johnson

The trajectory and logic of urban development in post-Mao China have been shaped and defined by the contention between domestic and global capital, central and local state and social actors of different class status and endowment. This urban transformation process of historic proportion entails new rules for distribution and negotiation, novel perceptions of citizenship, as well as room for unprecedented spontaneity and creativity. Based on original research by leading experts, this book offers an updated and nuanced analysis of the new logic of urban governance and its implications.
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Chapter 21: Urban social assistance in China: reflecting changing urban development?

Daniel R. Hammond


This chapter will outline the development of China’s urban social assistance system through a discussion of the minimum livelihood guarantee system (MLG or dibao). The chapter will first outline the developmental stages the programme went through providing readers with a history of urban social assistance. This includes a brief discussion of descriptive statistics regarding the urban MLG. Second, it will discuss what dibao is and outline the underlying principles and design of the programme. This will highlight in particular that the urban MLG did not emerge as a poverty alleviation programme per se but is better understood as a social stability mechanism. Third, it will discuss commonly identified strengths and weaknesses of how dibao has functioned over the years. Fourth, the chapter will analyse the urban MLG through Stokers’ five propositions of governance. This indicates that while there are areas in which urban social assistance governance has changed there are a number of facets which remain consistent with established Chinese governance.

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