The Perception of Anti-corruption Efficacy in China : An Empirical Analysis

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)885-903
Journal / PublicationSocial Indicators Research
Issue number3
Online published18 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


As corruption affects people in all walks of life, public reactions to corruption and citizens’ views of the government’s anti-corruption effort are critically important. Any government seeking to make effective policy against corruption must obtain public trust and support, which provides the much-needed legitimacy for policy enforcement. In this study, we drew on a survey of 1,604 randomly selected residents in Shanghai in 2008 to examine the perceptions and attitudes of Chinese citizens towards the government’s anti-corruption effort. Specifically, we focussed on the “sense of anticorruption efficacy,” defined as people’s expectation for positive anti-corruption outcomes. We addressed two questions. To what extent the public was confident in the government’s anti-corruption efficacy? What factors explained the variation in people’s perceptions of anti-corruption efficacy? Results indicated that two salient factors could affect an individual’s sense of anti-corruption efficacy. First, as corruption contributed to social disparity, the perceived unfairness of income distribution exacerbated people’s expectation for anti-corruption efficacy. Secondly, an accepting attitude towards power intrusion into income distribution diluted the positive impact of the perception of unfair distribution on people’s expectation for anti-corruption efficacy. We take from the results that to what extent people expect the government to make effective effort to control corruption is determined by both economic and political factors. People develop high expectation for anti-corruption reform when they are unhappy not only with the lack of fairness in income distribution but also with the intrusion of political power into economic affairs which, if unconstrained, often gives rise to corruption.

Research Area(s)

  • China, Corruption, Income distribution, Sense of anti-corruption efficacy, Social unfairness