China’s social security response to COVID-19: Wider lessons learnt for social security’s contribution to social cohesion and inclusive economic development

Xiaoyan Qian

Volume 73 (2020), Issue 3 (Special issue)

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China has adopted an array of special social security measures in response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, to mitigate the downside social and economic impacts caused by the pandemic. Measures include the reduction, exemption and deferral of social security contributions by employers, the extension of benefits coverage for employees, and the provision of more accessible e-services by social insurance agencies. The article points out that a preliminary assessment of those measures would suggest that they have played a key role in supporting social cohesion and in stabilising the economy. In a critical manner, the article compares the measures adopted in China with those of other countries, and identifies how China could learn from international practice and experience. Finally, and based on recent Chinese experience, the article presents proposals that seek to improve the longer-term contribution made by the Chinese social security system to realise the goals of social cohesion and inclusive economic development. As set out in China’s Social Insurance Law of 2010, the social security system should not only support a fair sharing of benefits of development, but also promote social harmony and stability.

Social policies & programmes
Shocks & extreme events
social security administration
social development
economic development
social cohesion