Paths to Decentralization: Changing Territorial Dynamics of Social Policy in the People's Republic of China and the United States

Friday, June 24, 2016: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
254 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Daniel Beland, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
Philip Rocco, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Shih-Jiun Shi, Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
Alex Waddan, UNiversity of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Territory is a central dimension of social policy in both the United States (US) and the

People’s Republic of China (PRC). In these large, diverse polities, policy disputes

concern not just the scope of social benefits but the extent to which national versus

subnational governments should participate in decisionmaking and make fiscal

contributions to the program. Much scholarship suggests a relatively tight coupling

between regime type and social policy territoriality, namely that the autocratic

Chinese regime should support greater centralization than a liberal democracy like the

US regime. In this paper, we argue that internal tensions within each regime have

pushed both countries away from these equilibria. Since the 1970s, in the field of

social policy, intra-bureaucratic bargaining in China has given local governments

significantly more autonomy while partisan and interest group conflict in the US has

led to power sharing between multiple levels of government.