Welfare and Inequality in Market Leninism: China and Vietnam

  • Jonathan D. LondonEmail author
Part of the Studies in the Political Economy of Public Policy book series (PEPP)


This chapter examines how the transition from state-socialist to market-based social orders in China and Vietnam has shaped social relations and institutional arrangements governing welfare and inequality and with it, welfare and inequality outcomes. It demonstrates how and why patterns of welfare and inequality in China and Vietnam are best understood in relation to these countries’ specific social histories, their specific paths of extrication from state-socialism, and to responses to marketization specific to each country. The chapter explores the effects of market transition on reproductive institutions (i.e., social welfare institutions), and the subsequent redevelopment of these in the context of rapidly if (spatially and temporally) unevenly developing market orders. What is striking about prevailing understandings of the Chinese and Vietnamese experiences is not that communist parties have overseen the most explosive market-based growth in human history, but rather that so many observers are surprised by it. For as the cases of China, Vietnam, all the other countries considered in this volume show, and a wealth of human history shows, market-based social orders are compatible with all manner of political institutions. Be that as it may, this chapter contends that China and Vietnam’s distinctive combination of political and economic institutions generates distinctive implications for patterns of domination, accumulation, and social reproduction. The chapter clarifies these points and explores how and why the regimes, similarities aside, also differ.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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