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Building higher-quality social security system for common prosperity

Author  :  Zheng Gongcheng     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2023-04-04

The core task of social security reform in the new era should be to realize its high-quality development. The early and comprehensive establishment of a new institutional civilization of high-quality social security that can permanently benefit generations of Chinese people should be pursued.

Social security evolution

The continuous development of the modern social security system has accompanied the rise of industrial society. With a legally enforced social distribution mechanism, a modern social security system resolves the worries of members of society and promotes social equity. It is a significant achievement of institutional civilization nurtured in humanity’s modernization process.

Two basic facts are revealed by reviewing the history of modern social security. First, the development of modern social security is positively correlated with the modernization process of a country. Second, benign social security system arrangements can resolve social risks, promote national development, and enhance people’s wellbeing. 

China’s modern social security system has evolved since its inception at the dawn of New China. The system, which reflects the CPC’s commitment to its original aspirations and the mission, as well as the superiority of the socialist system, has seen development through the planned economy period and the institutional reform period since the reform and opening up. In the new era, China has entered a new stage of building a social security system with Chinese characteristics on all fronts. The system has played an indispensable and remarkable role in safeguarding the people’s wellbeing and advancing equity.

Modern social security system

In the past 10 years, the cause of social security in China has achieved a comprehensive leap forward. First, the overall transformation of the system has been achieved. Second, with its comprehensive development, it has become an essential mechanism for ensuring that the fruits of national development are shared by all. Third, it has made outstanding contributions to narrowing the wealth gap, promoting social equity, and addressing major challenges. Fourth, new breakthroughs have been achieved in the system construction of the rule of law, institutional reform, and innovation of mechanisms.

Despite these notable achievements, there is still room for improvements in the current social security system. First, the degree of law-based development of social security is still sub-optimal. Second, mutual assistance is relatively weak. Third, the development of social security remains imbalanced and insufficient. Fourth, the role of the social security system in redistribution is limited. 

On one hand, it is necessary to clarify the basic approach to promoting the high-quality development of social security. At present, the key is to comprehensively map out the blueprint for a social security system with Chinese characteristics, clarify both its essential role in upholding socialism and its attribute of public ownership, and fully integrate the concepts of putting the people first, fairness orientation, joint construction and sharing, local characteristics, pursuing incremental progress, and sustainable development, so as to translate China’s institutional advantages into social security effectiveness. On the other hand, it is crucial to seize the five-year window period and comprehensively optimize key institutional arrangements.

In the area of endowment insurance, we will coordinate the reform and development of the basic endowment insurance system for three groups, namely, staff from government agencies and public institutions, enterprise employees, and urban and rural residents. We will coordinate the development of pension systems at different levels, restructure the financing mechanisms for the arrangements of statutory systems, adapt relevant parameters to the times, and fast-track the national coordination of basic endowment insurance for employees. 

Through optimizing the guidance over policy services and developing the collective economy, the effectiveness of the residential pension insurance system can be enhanced. In terms of medical security, we should adhere to the development orientation of “all for the people’s health,” and clarify that the basic functional orientation of the medical insurance system is to alleviate the people’s financial concerns about medical care for injuries or diseases. By comprehensively optimizing the financing mechanisms and making a unified treatment list, we can truly achieve the goal of a fair and inclusive medical insurance system. In terms of social assistance, it is also advisable to expand the boundary of assistance.

In terms of elderly care services, starting from respecting the wishes of the elderly and meeting their needs, we should accelerate the establishment of a basic elderly care service system, with assistance for home-based elderly care as the main direction of our efforts, institutional elderly care as a safety net, and the disability assessment as a substitute for policies that provide preferential treatment simply based on age, so as to achieve targeted services. 

In terms of child welfare, it is necessary to establish a new concept of child welfare led by the government, linked by multiple entities, widely covered, and comprehensively developed. We need to establish a basic child service system, and form a parallel development pattern of child services, child allowances, and child preferential treatment, effectively relieving urban and rural residents of their worries about childcare, and providing adequate welfare guarantees for the healthy growth of children. In short, the process of Chinese modernization is speeding up in all respects. On the path towards common prosperity for all, we have entered a critical period of building a comprehensive social security system with Chinese characteristics. As long as the high-quality development philosophy is truly implemented, a new system of social security with Chinese characteristics that is consistent with Chinese modernization will be created.


Zheng Gongcheng is a professor from the School of Labor and Human Resources at Renmin University of China. 



Editor: Yu Hui

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