Economic Transition in China and Vietnam: Crossing the Poverty Line Is Just the First Step for Women and Their Families

By Summerfield, Gale | Review of Social Economy, Summer 1997 | Go to article overview

Economic Transition in China and Vietnam: Crossing the Poverty Line Is Just the First Step for Women and Their Families


Summerfield, Gale, Review of Social Economy


INTRODUCTION

This paper will examine how families, especially poor families and women in those families, in China and Vietnam have been affected by and responded to economic transition policies. The concept of the family employed is one where: the group is made up of individuals who frequently cooperate but at times find individual interests conflicting with the larger group interest; relationships among the members change over time and are influenced by policy changes as well as other factors; and a variety of living arrangements can be accommodated. This concept is discussed further in the following section.

The paper then briefly reviews the transition policies in China and Vietnam and their impact on poor families. The following sections examine key areas for family and individual strategies related to survival, improving well-being, and participating fully in both social development and the family: employment changes including migration and changing sources of income, education and human security areas such as health care, and the basic struggle for survival of girls reflected in the sex ratio. The conclusion focuses on comparative aspects of policies, family strategies and women.

INSIDE THE "BLACK BOX"

In contrast to the "black box" approach where the family is considered a unified decision-making unit, this paper treats the family as a "cooperative-conflict" where members may care deeply about each other and cooperate to improve the quality of life of the family but also may exhibit aspects of conflict, especially over the division of labor and income (see Sen 1990). These differences may limit the effectiveness of development policies and lead to unexpected results (Haddad et al. 1994). Because women are disadvantaged in society, the gender aspects of intrafamily bargaining are particularly interesting and relevant for policy analysis. As female-headed households with no adult males present become more common, however, the dynamics change, but the aspects of cooperation and conflict still hold because generational and other conflicts are present. For many female-headed households, the gender issue also remains because the "unseen" father, brother, or uncle often plays a decision-making role.

The discrimination women face in opportunities outside the home affects their position in the cooperative-conflict within the home. The ability to earn some income improves a woman's standing in the household and also provides security to the family through the diversification of earnings (see also the discussions by Tinker and Cohen in this symposium). Higher school fees and opportunities for home-based work mean that daughters may lose the access to education in a conflict with their parents and brothers in the family. More opportunities for women and girls in society translate into greater bargaining power at home and vice versa. Thus, the division of power within the family is not a static phenomenon but a process that changes over time and is influenced by both factors within the family and societal changes such as types of employment open to women (Senauer 1990; Summerfield, forthcoming).

The family, especially in societies where traditional bias against women is still strong, provides a paradox of comfort, security, and discrimination for women as discussed in the introduction to this symposium. It is an excellent vehicle for the participation of both women and men in the development process, but the threat of domestic violence, long work hours, and other indications of oppression for women demonstrate a need for change in the family as a social institution.

The strains on the family during economic reforms have alarmed many residents of these countries as they observe the destruction of their base of security without new sources for that security (see IURD 1994). Singapore has begun promoting an Asian model of the family that reinforces the traditional, patriarchal form (see Pyle's paper in the Symposium). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Economic Transition in China and Vietnam: Crossing the Poverty Line Is Just the First Step for Women and Their Families
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.