Mobilization and Irregularity: Volatile Growth of Educational Expenditure in China

  • Litao ZhaoEmail author


Social policy scholars often take the view that welfare states can be classified into different types based on distinct political philosophies and stable institutional features. It is a challenge to position China in any such taxonomy, however. Using the volatile growth of educational expenditure in recent years as an example, this chapter suggests that China’s social policy in general, and educational policy in particular, has not evolved into a stable model. The tension between centralized mandates and decentralized financing generates greater irregularity than any existing theory can sufficiently explain. China often relies on top-down mobilization to achieve unfunded or underfunded policy mandates. Mobilization, however, cannot last long as it stresses and strains local governments. The alternation between mobilization and post-mobilization is highly disruptive for China’s welfare state building. Much more needs to be done to replace mobilization with a more regularized, sustainable, and equitable financing mechanism for education and other social programs.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.East Asian InstituteNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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