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Updated by Aidi Hu , valérie schmitt on 21.04.2017

In China, social security is organized by scheme, by region and by groups of population. In general, the formal system is composed of five formal social insurance schemes and a social assistance program, which is complemented by supplementary schemes, such as occupational pensions, trade-union-run programs, commercial insurance, etc.

Social security is much more developed in the urban areas in terms of of the scope of social security coverage, and tends to extend more widely in terms of personal coverage, benefit level and contingency packages.

There  has been significant extension of social security coverage in China over the past ten years, specifically in terms of health insurance and income assistance, certain improvements include:

  • 1000 million people, equal to more than 70 per cent of the whole population, are now insured under one of the three main health insurance schemes, two of which were introduced in 2003 and 2007 respectively. The government's goal is to have more than 90 per cent of the population insured by 2020.
  • Since 2007, every household is protected from falling below defined poverty lines by the Minimum Living Standard program.

There are multiple contributing factors for the vast progress in China's extension of social security. One of the most important reasons is the Government's new adoption of social security as a national priority, which has been supported by an increased amount of dedicated fiscal resources: a total of CNY1950 billion has been earmarked to social security over the period of 2003-2007, accounting for about 11.6 per cent of the government budget.