Is China an Inviting Place for Life Insurance?

Cheris Shun-ching Chan

in Marketing Death

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780195394078
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199951154 | DOI:
Is China an Inviting Place for Life Insurance?

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This chapter provides a context for the ethnographic stories that unfold in subsequent chapters. It begins with a brief historical background of commercial life insurance in China, dating back to the early nineteenth century through the end of the Maoist regime. Then, it details the economic, institutional, and cultural conditions in urban China in the late 1980s to the 1990s, and assesses each of these conditions’ possible impacts on the development of commercial life insurance, both favourable and unfavourable. In particular, the chapter details how major cultural barriers to life insurance, including the Chinese cultural taboo on death, are rooted in Chinese philosophical and folk religious traditions. Finally, it relates these institutional and cultural conditions to the theoretical questions of the book. It presents the characteristics of the emergent Chinese market, namely its uneven growth pattern, the dominance of domestic insurers, and its disproportionate focus on money management, and argues that neither the cultural value nor the cultural tool-kit model alone is sufficient to explain these characteristics.

Keywords: child-centered culture; Chinese insurance firm; Chinese risk management; Chinese risk perception; concept of life and death; cultural taboo; good death; good life; insurance history in China; premature death

Chapter.  13584 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Sociology

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