Rural to urban migration and distributive justice in contemporary China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-100
Journal / PublicationAsian and Pacific Migration Journal
Issue number1
Online published30 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


This paper examines perceptions of micro justice and macro justice in contemporary China, focusing on comparisons among rural–urban migrants, urban locals and rural villagers. It puts forward three possibilities concerning distributive justice among rural–urban migrants relative to other groups, based on the social position hypothesis, reference group hypothesis, and subjective mobility hypothesis. Data from the 2010 Chinese General Social Survey largely support the reference group hypothesis. Rural–urban migrants are significantly more likely than urban locals to view their income level and society as fair, and the difference in perceived fairness of own income between the two groups varies by income level. Rural villagers and rural–urban migrants hold similar views on micro justice and macro justice. This paper contributes to the existing literature by suggesting that: (1) socio-economic status is not necessarily positively associated with favorable views of the current distributive system; and (2) social comparisons may play a more important role.

Research Area(s)

  • China, income, macro justice, micro justice, rural–urban migration

Bibliographic Note

Full text of this publication does not contain sufficient affiliation information. With consent from the author(s) concerned, the Research Unit(s) information for this record is based on the existing academic department affiliation of the author(s).