Social Assistance (SA) is the foundation, and a vital component, of China’s social governnance system. It is the Government’s responsibility to provide poor families with support in order to protect them from their life-risks and to sustain their subsistence. The implementation of SA programs in China is a complicated process, whereby hundreds of millions of beneficiaries are involved. For most of the programs, mean-testing is needed to indentify the eligibility of applicants and make sure that the benefits can provide poor people with a life at a pre-determined level.

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As late as 2010, ten million school children in China’s poor rural schools were estimated to suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Fortunately, research conducted in China has shown that well-implemented, school-based nutrition interventions may significantly reduce rates of undernutrition (particularly anemia), and improve educational outcomes.

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This paper estimates urban and rural poverty rates across five Chinese administrative regions (Shanghai, Liaoning, Guangdong, Henan and Gansu) in 2014 using representative household level data from the China Family Panel Studies survey. The types of government transfer payments that households in poverty received and the ability for such payments to lift households from poverty are also assessed. Consistent with official estimates, the results highlight substantial disparities in poverty rates between administrative regions.

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Over the past 35 years, China has experienced a significant economic transformation and made remarkable progress in poverty reduction and social development. The country has the largest population in the world at more than 1.3 billion people, meaning that its achievement of the 2015 Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of its people suffering from hunger accounted for almost two thirds of such reductions globally.

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Poverty reduction in the rural sector – What can countries learn from China’s experience? Achievements, challenges and the way forward in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals