Public-sector pay in China: 1949-2001

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Despite the quantitative and qualitative significance of the public sector in China, insufficient studies have been carried out to advance our knowledge of its pay policy and practice and any changes that may have taken place in the wake of the market economy. This paper provides an overview of the three major reforms in China's public-sector pay in the last five decades and assesses its likely impact on public-sector employees' income in relation to that of workers in enterprises. It focuses on the role of the state in the pay determination process, factors influencing the wage distribution, changes in pay structure and grading systems and causes for earning differentials. It reveals a very different approach to pay determination from those more familiarly seen in the UK and indeed Europe and the US. The exploration of the conflicts and tensions characteristic of the public-sector pay system in China will enhance our understanding of the pressures and dilemmas facing different governments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-916
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Bonus
  • China
  • Egalitarianism
  • Public-sector pay system

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