In this book talk, Xian Huang will discuss her new book Social Protection under Authoritarianism. The book analyzes the transformation of China’s social health insurance in the first decade of the 2000s, addressing its expansion and how it is distributed. Drawing from government documents, field interviews, survey data, and government statistics, she reveals that Chinese leaders have a strategy of “stratified expansion,” perpetuating a particularly privileged program for the elites while developing an essentially modest health provision for the masses. She contends that this strategy effectively balances between elites and masses to maximize the regime’s prospects of stability.
In China’s multilevel governance, both centralized and decentralized structures are involved in the distribution of social health insurance. When local leaders implement the stratified expansion of social health insurance, they respond to varied local conditions. As a result, China’s health insurance policies differ dramatically across sub-national regions as well as socioeconomic groups. Providing an in-depth look into China’s health insurance system, this book sheds light not only on Chinese politics, but also on how social benefits function in authoritarian regimes and decentralized multilevel governance settings.
Xian Huang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers University. Her research interests include (1) political causes and outcomes of social inequality, stratification, and mobility; (2) redistribution, social welfare and health policies; (3) public opinion and preferences in the autocratic setting. Before joining Rutgers, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at University of Pennsylvania. She received a PhD of Political Science from Columbia University. She received her BA degrees in Political Science and Economics, and a MA degree in Political Science from Peking University.