Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

17312 The Hutubi Model: An Asset-Based Innovation for Inclusive Growth In China

Sunday, January 15, 2012: 11:45 AM
Farragut Square (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Jin Huang, MSW, PhD student, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Baorong Guo, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Missouri-Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Li Zou, MSW, International Director, Washington University in Saint Louis, St Louis, MO
Michael Sherraden, PhD, Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development and Director of the Center for Social Development, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background: In response to the growing rural-urban inequality, China is undertaking a series of policy initiatives to promote inclusive growth and rural development. Inclusive growth is defined as “growth that not only creates new economic opportunities but also one that ensures equal access to the opportunities created for all segments of society including the disadvantaged and the marginalized (Ali, 2007, p.10).” Focusing on wealth accumulation for disadvantaged populations, asset-based social policy integrates social protection and economic investment, and is a viable option for inclusive growth and progressive development.

This study examines the features of an asset-based innovation in rural China—Hutubi Social Security Loan Program, and explores the institutional mechanisms built in this program that encourage asset building and promote inclusive growth. Initiated in 1998 by the local rural social security office, the Hutubi program allows social security participants to use their own and/or other people's retirement savings in social security accounts as legal collateral to take out loans for physical assets related to agricultural production (such as livestock and farming equipment).

Methods: This case study uses three sources of data: the administrative data, the survey data and the in-depth interview data. Descriptive analyses (N=1200) are conducted to understand program operation, demographic characteristics of participants, program activities, and program effects.

Results: Analyses show that (1) the program increases local farmers' access to financial services and their ability to borrow and invest; the number of loans taken out by program participants increases over the years. (2) The majority of participants (92%) take out loans to purchase physical assets related to agricultural/pastoral production. (3) Program operation successfully augments local social insurance funds; the annual growth rate of the funds is 8.3%. (4) Financial incentives set up by the program also encourage participants to accumulate retirement savings; the average retirement savings increases by 57% from 1998 to 2003. (5) The program creates a mechanism to maximize the use of assets through the means of various loans, and provide a new approach to community development.

Conclusion: The Hutubi program expands access to financial services and opportunities of economic growth for the poor. The program shows that asset building among the poor is possible with proper policy incentives and financial services being offered. Access to micro credit loans and financial services provide effective incentives to cater farmers' financial needs. Structural incentives, when appropriately designed and practically implemented, can encourage the poor to build assets. Like Hutubi, many rural areas of the developing world experience a shortage of appropriate financial services available to the poor.