News from Project B05


In "Social Policy & Administration", 7 CRC 1342 projects have presented case studies of social policy dynamics in the Global South. Their synthesis shows: The concept of causal mechanisms is particularly well suited for analysing such dynamics.

Seven projects of CRC 1342's project area B have published a Special Regional Issue of "Social Policy & Administration": Causal mechanisms in the analysis of transnational social policy dynamics: Evidence from the global south. The main research question the authors address is: Which causal mechanisms can capture the transnational dynamics of social policy in the Global South?

In order to find answers to this question, the authors present in‐depth case studies of social policy dynamics in different countries and regions in the Global South as well as different fields. All articles focus on the interplay of national and transnational actors when it comes to social policy‐making. (The papers of this Special Issue are listed below.)

The key findings of the authors are:

  • Explanations of social policy‐making in the Global South will remain incomplete unless transnational factors are taken into account
  • However, this does not mean that national factors are no longer important. In social policy decision‐making, national institutional settings and actors are key
  • Mechanism‐based research can plausibly trace the interplay between transnational and national actors and its impact on shaping social policy outcomes. The articles identify a variety of causal mechanisms that can capture this interplay
  • The output of social policy‐making is complex and can often not be explained by a single mechanism. Examining the combination and possible interaction of several causal mechanisms can provide more in‐depth explanations 
  • The concept of causal mechanisms can also be applied in comparative analyses
  • Mechanisms can be traced inductively in one case and then be applied to another case.


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Johanna Kuhlmann & Tobias ten Brink (2021). Causal mechanisms in the analysis of transnational social policy dynamics: Evidence from the global south. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12725

Armin Müller (2021). Bureaucratic conflict between transnational actor coalitions: The diffusion of British national vocational qualifications to China. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12689

Johanna Kuhlmann & Frank Nullmeier (2021). A mechanism‐based approach to the comparison of national pension systems in Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12691

Kressen Thyen & Roy Karadag (2021). Between affordable welfare and affordable food: Internationalized food subsidy reforms in Egypt and Tunisia. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12710

Monika Ewa Kaminska, Ertila Druga, Liva Stupele & Ante Malinar (2021). Changing the healthcare financing paradigm: Domestic actors and international organizations in the agenda setting for diffusion of social health insurance in post‐communist Central and Eastern Europe. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12724

Gulnaz Isabekova & Heiko Pleines (2021). Integrating development aid into social policy: Lessons on cooperation and its challenges learned from the example of health care in Kyrgyzstan. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12669

Anna Safuta (2021). When policy entrepreneurs fail: Explaining the failure of long‐term care reforms in Poland. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12714

Jakob Henninger & Friederike Römer (2021). Choose your battles: How civil society organisations choose context‐specific goals and activities to fight for immigrant welfare rights in Malaysia and Argentina. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12721


Contact:
Dr. Johanna Kuhlmann
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58574
E-Mail: johanna.kuhlmann@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3382
E-Mail: t.tenbrink@jacobs-university.de

B05 member Tao Liu has co-authored and published a paper stating that for the first time social policy in China has acted as a major player for coping with the negative outcomes of a pandemic.

Tao Liu co-authored the article "Social Policy Responses to the Covid-19 Crisis in
China in 2020" with his Chinese colleagues Quan Lu, Zehao Cai, and Bin Chen. It was published open access in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The article focuses on how Chinese social policy has responded to the COVID-19 crisis until June 2020. "The explosiveness and severity of the pandemic crisis and its unpredictable as well as astronomical social costs have strengthened the model of 'big government' in the Chinese case with massive state intervention in society and the economy," Tao Liu and his co-authors state. The crisis "has further legitimated hyper-normal and, in some cases, nationwide and large-scale extralegal intervention policy." In order to mitigate social suffering and to guarantee political stability, different types of social policy programmes have been combined and synthesized, including social insurance, social assistance, and social welfare arrangements. "For the first time, social policy in China has acted as a major player for coping with the negative outcomes of a pandemic," the authors conclude.

The authors state that China is making a great effort to overcome the crisis. Nevertheless, they criticise the measures. For example, not even half of the urban working population is insured against unemployment. Moreover, the amounts paid out are low despite a surplus of 82 billion US dollars accumulated over the years. In the area of social assistance, many domestic migrant workers had problems registering because they could not travel to their home towns in time.

The full paper can be read and downloaded here free of charge.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Tao Liu
The team of authors identifies three causal mechanisms that have led to the development of contribution-based social security systems in China.

Since the initiation of reform and opening policies, social protection for urban workers in the People’s Republic of China has transformed massively. Before the 1980s, state-owned enterprises were responsible for protecting workers from social risks such as old age, accidents, and illness. Today, these three areas are organized as contribution-based social insurance systems with Chinese characteristics.

In their paper "Causal mechanisms in the making of China‘s social insurance system: Policy experimentation, topleader intervention, and elite cooperation" Tobias ten Brink, Armin Müller and Tao Liu identifie the causal mechanisms that led to the introduction of insurance schemes in the 1990s and early 2000s. they find three causal mechanisms: (neutral and strategic) policy experimentation, top-leader intervention, and (consensus-based and enforced) elite cooperation. Moreover, the thre authors demonstrate that the presence or absence of complementarity between the international environment and the domestic actor constellation had a decisive effect on how those mechanisms played out in the policy fields of urban pension, health and work accident insurance.

"Causal mechanisms in the making of China‘s social insurance system: Policy experimentation, topleader intervention, and elite cooperation" is the seventh Socium SFB 1342 Working Paper that has been published since October 2019.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Tao Liu
Dr. Armin Müller
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3473
E-Mail: arm.mueller@jacobs-university.de

Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3382
E-Mail: t.tenbrink@jacobs-university.de

Müller met for a video conference with Evelyne Gebhardt, deputy chair of the delegation for relations with the PR China in the European Parliament, and Tamara Anthony, head of the ARD studio in Beijing.

A replay of the conversation is available on Evelyne Gebhardt's Facebook page (German only).


Contact:
Dr. Armin Müller
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3473
E-Mail: arm.mueller@jacobs-university.de

Prof Zheng Gongcheng
Prof Zheng Gongcheng
Zheng Gongcheng, professor at Renmin University and chairman of the Chinese Society for Social Security Research, presented his view on the transformation of China's social policy at SFB 1342.

Zheng Gongcheng, Professor at the School of Labour and Human Resources at Renmin University and Chairman of the Chinese Society for Social Security Research, visited CRC 1342 and gave an overview of the development of Chinese social policy, especially in the last 70 years. He also discussed the current challenges the Chinese Communist Party faces in reforming the social system.

Zheng pointed out that China has a long tradition of social security. There had already been disaster and bereavement aid more than 2000 years ago. The Han dynasty even operated a long-term care system for older people.

China's modern social policy, however, only began some 70 years ago. In 1949 there were eight million refugees due to natural disasters, for whom an emergency aid system was set up. At the same time, the unemployment rate in the cities was 50 percent. In 1951, unemployment insurance was introduced in China's cities, but not in the countryside, to prevent those affected from becoming impoverished. This distinction remained characteristic of China's social policy: health insurance and orphanage assistance, which were introduced in the 1950s, also remained limited to the cities. Moreover, social benefits were not borne by the central state, but by the companies the people worked for.

With the transition from the state-planned economy to the Chinese variant of capitalism, China's social policy also changed fundamentally. Social benefits are now at least partially financed by contributions, and the rural population is also included in the systems. According to Zheng, there are currently 1.4 billion Chinese registered in the social security systems. 1.35 billion people are covered by health insurance, 277 million currently receive pensions and around 5 percent of the total population receives social assistance.

"However, the system is still far from mature," said Zheng. "The goal of equality and justice has not yet been achieved". The financial basis of the social systems must be broadened and the pools from which the benefits are paid must be enlarged. At present, for example, health insurance is not yet pooled at national level, but at district level.

For pension insurance, nationwide financing is planned for 2021. The pension system, however, has the greatest need for reform in the areas of retirement age and minimum contribution period. Currently, Chinese women can receive their pension at the age of 50 and men at the age of 60 provided they have paid contributions for 15 years. It is obvious that the pension system cannot be financed sustainably with these figures.

But the necessary reforms are unpopular: in an online survey, 97 percent of employees in the public sector rejected a reform of the pension system. The Communist Party has already worked out the roadmap with the necessary reform steps and is unlikely to deviate from it. But, according to Zheng Gongcheng, the party has realized that it has to put in a lot of effort to convince the population of the necessary changes.

Looking to the future, Zheng also advocated the introduction of a private pension scheme to supplement the state pension. He also assessed the introduction of private primary schools as positive. Accident and unemployment insurance must be expanded. The biggest task, however, would be the introduction of long-term care insurance. China's population is ageing rapidly, and 60 percent of families have only one child. In many cases, it will not be possible in the future to care for elderly people in need of care in the families. China is therefore closely monitoring the long-term care systems in Germany and Japan in particular.

Zheng Gongcheng had come to Bremen with a number of colleagues from various social science research institutions. Following Zheng's lecture, the Chinese delegation met with the members of project B05 to discuss the pension, social assistance and health insurance reform in China in detail. SFB member Liu Tao also explained current developments in the German social security system to the Chinese guests.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3382
E-Mail: t.tenbrink@jacobs-university.de

Tao Liu, Tobias ten Brink and Armin Müller presented their research at an international conference of the Centre for Chinese Public Administration Research in Guangzhou.

From 24-25 November 2018, members of project B05 participated in the “Poverty, Inequality and Social Policy International Conference 2018” in Guangzhou, China. The Centre for Chinese Public Administration Research at Sun Yat-sen University organised the conference, and scholars from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, Korea, Australia, Germany and the UK attended.

Prof. Tao Liu, Prof. Tobias ten Brink and Dr. Armin Müller presented during the conference. Dr. Müller evaluated the effectiveness of health insurance in preventing illness-induced poverty in China among the elderly, whereas Prof. Liu defined digital risks and how they could challenge social protection. Prof. ten Brink introduced the Collaborative Research Centre 1342, its two Project Areas A and B, and project B05. Adding on the introduction, he also mentioned how Chinese Dibao (minimum living allowance) has synthesized disparate ideas of European welfare universalism, American's workfare and the Chinese tradition of pragmatism and regionalism. Project team B05 also had an internal meeting at Guangzhou.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Tao Liu
Dr. Armin Müller
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3473
E-Mail: arm.mueller@jacobs-university.de

Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3382
E-Mail: t.tenbrink@jacobs-university.de

Prof Dr Tao Liu
Prof Dr Tao Liu
In a brief interview, the co-director of project B05 explains the advantages of the distinction from the top Chinese university for the CRC 1342.

You have been recently honored as a Distinguished Professor by the Zhejiang University - congratulations! In which department is the professorship located?
At the School of Public Affairs. The distinction is limited to three years: from December 2018 to December 2021.

How important is Zhejiang University in China and internationally?
Zhejiang University is one of the top universities in China. It currently ranks third behind Beijing University and Tsinghua University. In the QS World University Ranking, Zhejiang University is currently in 68th place. For comparison: the Technical University of Munich is in 61st place in this ranking.

Will you be at Zhejiang University more often now?
I will visit Zhejiang University every year and give a series of lectures on social policy.

What practical advantages does this distinction have for you personally as a scientist and for the CRC?
I am now a formal member of Zhejiang University, I have a university card and I can use the entire infrastructure: from the cafeteria to the library. Equally important is the contact and access to scientists, especially to important social policy researchers. In the long run, the Distinguished Professor status will greatly facilitate our social policy research in the Yangtze Delta region and our access to regional and subnational social policy data.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Tao Liu
Tao Liu and Tobias ten Brink, who are jointly directing project B05, have published a special issue of the "Journal of Chinese Governance". The six articles of the issue examine China's social policy from an international, comparative perspective.

Liu and ten Brink argue in their introduction that the expansion of social policy in China in recent decades has been influenced and facilitated by international and supranational influences. Liu elaborates on this in his contribution "Epistemological globalization and the shaping of social policy in China". According to Liu and ten Brink, the logic of Chinese social reforms cannot be understood if these external factors are not taken into account. How exactly the transfer of knowledge and ideas between countries of the Global North and China has taken place and how concepts have been taken up, adopted or modified, however, requires further investigation.

Liu's an ten Brinks introduction to the special issue is available online.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Tao Liu
Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3382
E-Mail: t.tenbrink@jacobs-university.de

The project B05 team in Dalian
The project B05 team in Dalian
The project B05 team was invited by the Chinese Association of Social Security to the 14th International Forum on Social Security "Social Security and State Governance".

In mid-September, the project B05 team was invited by the CAOSS (Chinese Association of Social Security) to the 14th International Forum on Social Security "Social Security and State Governance", the biggest conference in East Asia on social security and social policy. The conference was organized by ILO (International Labor Organization), FES (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung), KASP East Asia Research Committee, JASP's Section on Japan-East Asia Social Policy and CAOSS.

Tobias ten Brink presented the agenda of the CRC project as one of the keynote speeches, addressing the research of the CRC 1342 and the interest in China of project B05. The CRC project received great interest from both Chinese scholars and the international audience. Tao Liu from the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen participated in the round table discussions on the future of social protection as one of the speakers. During the two-day conference, the B05 team had a meeting with the president of CAOSS, Prof. Zheng Gongcheng at Renmin University, on future co-work and research cooperation. Team member Dr. Armin Müller, research fellow Tong Tian and Yuxin Li of Duisburg-Essen University also attended. The conference in Dalian tightened CRC 1342’s relations with researchers from East Asia.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3382
E-Mail: t.tenbrink@jacobs-university.de

Meeting at the Jacobs University Bremen
Meeting at the Jacobs University Bremen
Four scientists from the Centre for International Social Security Studies met with CRC 1342 members to exchange their views on pension reforms in China and Germany.

At the beginning of July a delegation from the Centre for International Social Security Studies (CISS) at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) came to visit the China Global Center at Jacobs University Bremen, and was warmly welcomed by the Dean of Jacobs University Bremen, Prof. Arvid Kappas. It was the first time Director Prof. Bingwen Zheng, General Secretary Prof. Lianquan Fang, associate Professor Chuanjun Qi and associate Professor Peng Guo visited Bremen.

During the meeting, Professor Tobias ten Brink delivered a presentation about the CRC 1342 project B05 "Dynamics of Chinese social policy. Interplay of national and international influences", which he and Professor Tao Liu at Duisburg-Essen University are directing. Tao Liu afterwards explained to the guests Germany’s Riester pension reform in detail. Peng Guo presented an update on the dynamics and reforms of Chinese old-age insurance. Dr. Armin Müller, Dr. Fei Wang, research fellow Tong Tian and Yuxin Li of Duisburg-Essen University also attended the meeting.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3382
E-Mail: t.tenbrink@jacobs-university.de