In this dissertation, I want to research the development of urban social welfare policy in China from the late Republican period up to the post-Mao reforms (1927-89). My specific interest is income maintenance policies (such as old-age pensions, disability benefits, and unemployment insurance), because they compromise the core of the modern welfare state. I will assess how well two prominent theories drawn from the comparative literature explain the Chinese case: one which stresses the effects of the different regime-types on the development of welfare policy, and another which emphasizes the impact of changing state institutions. For each of the Republican, Maoist, and Dengist periods, I will attempt to answer the following questions: which groups of people are covered by these policies, and which are left out? How are benefits distributed? Why? I hope to show how the Chinese “welfare state” has evolved over time, as well as assess its impact on the distribution of income and security in urban China. In order to develop a comprehensive picture of the policy-making process, I plan to analyze income maintenance policies at both the national and local levels. My local case-study will be conducted in the city of Shanghai.