Chinese Cooperative and Basic Income

Finally, all Huaidi citizens have had a basic income of 1500 yuan [US $221] per year since 1995, which is directly transferred to their bank accounts in shares of 125 yuan [US $18.5] per month. For children under 18, this money is kept in parents’ accounts. This amount money was significant in 1995 (Chinese cities’ nominal per capita annual income was about 5000 yuan [US $738] in 1995), but not as much now, due to the rapid rise of GDP in the last 20 years (in 2015, the nominal per capita annual income in Chinese cities was about 50,000 yuan [US $7,379]).

One might wonder why the people of Huaidi get some cash regularly, and unconditionally, after receiving so many benefits in kind. The answer is that the basic income gives people more freedom, especially for those who are unemployed, even though they get enough distributed food and very good social security system. Additionally, this basic income acts as prevention of social ills, reducing crimes, fights and other hurtful behaviors.

Huaidi’s welfare system is much higher than Chinese average social security level, so nobody in the community applies for social assistance. Moreover, there are a lot of other benefits, such as free newspaper, free cable, public utility subsidy, university subsidy, and so on. These welfare benefits come from their original rural collective assets, especially land. Land reform is the biggest achievement from the Mao era. This kind of basic income–often called a social dividend–comes from assets, not tax. It is more likely to be universal for a highly populous country like China.

Cooperative Society and Basic Income: A Case from China