No country is as much in need of a system of social insurance as China. Traditionally, in Confucian Chinese society, children supported their parents in their parents’ old age. The “One Child Policy”, introduced in 1978 turns 35 this year along with the lonely singletons born under that policy. The parents of those children are nearing retirement age. Assume a couple with one child. Those two people also have the responsibility for as many as four parents. A family of six adults and one child is quite a financial burden for average Chinese paychecks. It’s even worse in rural areas.
In 2009 China introduced a system of universal social insurance for the very first time. Unsurprisingly, the system is already drastically underfunded to meet its obligations.
You might want to check out this interesting article at the NYT on China’s social insurance system.
If you don’t feel like clicking over there, here’s a shorter version: China doesn’t have the civil infrastructure for universal social insurance. Or for a lot of other things that Westerners take for granted. Like the ability to enforce international systems of intellectual property law, for example.