Welfare attitudes toward redistribution: a comparative study among China, Sweden, the USA and Germany

Stream: International social policy
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 10.55 am – 12.35 pm


Compared with extensive research on attitudes toward the welfare state in Western countries, sparse attention has been paid to the Chinese. During its transition in the past four decades, China has been reforming and restructuring the welfare institutions. Through analyzing the data collected from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) in 2009 and mainly using multinomial logistic regression analysis, this article compares Chinese attitudes toward the government’s role in redistribution, with that of citizens in Sweden, the USA and Germany, who are typical examples of social democratic, liberal and conservative welfare states. Two specific research questions are proposed. First, compared to other welfare regimes, what is the aggregated level of Chinese support for redistribution? Second, are the specific factors, including self-interest, social beliefs, and social mobility, influential in explaining Chinese support for redistribution?

Some distinctive features have been found in China. First, the Chinese display the strongest support for government redistribution, while they also have the strongest tolerance for social inequality. Second, the factor of inter-generational mobility is significant in explaining attitudes toward redistribution in China but not the other three countries. Third, the factors of social belief and the rational learning model are influencing welfare attitudes in all four countries.Overall, Chinese welfare attitudes are affected by rapid social-economic transition, as well as by the legacies of socialist China and Confucianist culture.


Huihui Gong (Presenter), Deparment of Public Administration, Hunan University, China
Huihui Gong, PhD, is an Assistant professor at the Department of Public Administration, Hunan University. Her research focuses on comparative social policy, NGOs development in China and collaborative governance.

Huamin Peng, Nanjing University, China
Huangmin Peng, is professor at the department of Social Work and Policy and Dean of the Institute of Social Construction and Social Work in Nanjing University.
She received her Ph.D. in Social Welfare in The Chinese University of Hong Kong. And her research interest focuses on Comparative welfare system, macro social work, social welfare policy

Yeqing Huang, East China University of Science and Technology
Dr. Yeqing Huang is currently a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at East China University of Science and Technology. She received her Ph.D. from Macquarie University in Australia. Her main research interests focus on social policy in China, including institutional exclusion confronted with rural to urban migrants, welfare participation behaviors and comparative studies between China and western welfare states. She has widely published in such journals as Social Indicators Research, Asian and Pacific Migration Review, Asian Population Studies and Journal of Asian Public Policy.