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The Social Protection of Rural Workers in the Construction Industry in Urban China

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  • Bingqin Li
  • Huamin Peng
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    Abstract

    The construction industry is important for Chinese rural to urban migrants. Over 90% of urban construction workers are rural migrants, and over a third of all rural migrants work in construction. The construction industry is not only particularly important, but is also different from other industries in its pay and labour recruitment practices. In common with other rural workers, construction workers have long suffered from various problems, including delayed payment of salaries and exclusion from urban social security schemes. State policies designed to deal with these problems have in general had mixed success. Partly as a result of the peculiarities of the construction industry, state policy has been particularly unsuccessful in dealing with the problems faced by construction workers. This paper considers both the risks rural workers in the construction industry face because of the work they do and the risks they face and because of their being rural workers. It shows that social protection needs to take into account both the work related risks and status related risks. The authors first review the literature concerning work related risks, and then build up a framework to analyse the risks embedded in their work and status, and the relationship between these risks and the existing formal social protection. Thirty one in depth interviews with construction workers, carried out in Tianjin, PRC, are used to demonstrate both the risks and the inability of the state-led social policy to tackle these risks. The results suggest that rural construction workers in cities were exposed to all sorts of problems from not being paid for their work in time to miserable living conditions, from having to pay for their own healthcare to no savings for old age. This paper highlights the problems of policy prescriptions that failed to recognise the complexity of the problems faced by these workers and criticises the tendency to seek quick fixes rather than long-term and careful institutional design.

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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/case/cp/CASEpaper113.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE in its series CASE Papers with number case113.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:case113

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    Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/case/_new/publications/default.asp

    Related research

    Keywords: social security; rural-urban migrants; construction workers; industrial organisation; social exclusion; People’s Republic of China; work related risks;

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    1. Lia Pacelli, 2002. "Fixed Term Contracts, Social Security Rebates and Labour Demand in Italy," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 7, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
    2. Juan J Dolado & Carlos Garcia--Serrano & Juan F. Jimeno, 2002. "Drawing Lessons From The Boom Of Temporary Jobs In Spain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(721), pages F270-F295, June.
    3. Carling, Kenneth & Holmlund, Bertil & Vejsiu, Altin, 2001. "Do Benefit Cuts Boost Job Finding? Swedish Evidence from the 1990s," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 766-90, October.
    4. Arne Bigsten & Peter Kimuyu & Karl Lundvall, 2004. "What to Do with the Informal Sector?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 22(6), pages 701-715, November.
    5. Michael J. Pisani & José A. Pagán, 2004. "Sectoral Selection and Informality: a Nicaraguan Case Study," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(4), pages 541-556, November.
    6. Coudouel, Aline & Marnie, Sheila & Micklewright, John, 1999. "Targeting Social Assistance in a Transition Economy: the Mahallas in Uzbekistan," CEPR Discussion Papers 2064, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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