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A Historical Investigation of the Changes in the Five-Guarantee System in Chinese Rural Areas

Song Shiyun  
Households enjoying five guarantees(in food,clothing,fuel,education,and burial expenses)belong to the most vulnerable group of people who are the least capable of making a living and therefore the neediest for help and support among the difficult rural residents and the five-guar- antee support constitutes an important part of the rural social security system with Chinese charac- teristics.Over the past fifty years,along with the process of industrialization,marketization and modernization,the five-guarantee system has gone through the following three models:the model of collective support(1956~1978)operating on public welfare fund and organized by the production team or the production brigade;the model of collective support(1979~2001)operating on the fund and goods from the village deduction and reserving and the resources under the overall control by the township government;the model of modern social security(from 2002 onwards)supported mainly by the national finance and complemented by collective security,land security and social assistance. The transformation of the three models represents not only the process of further institutional- ization,standardization and legalization of the five-guarantee work in China and the rising level of support received by those enjoying five guarantees,but also the process of structural change from a mutual-aid and self-supporting pattern to the one supported by government public finance.More- over,it is also a process of exploration for the establishment of a modern social security system in ru- ral areas.
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