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Chinese Perceptions of Distributive Justice

The research project “Towards a Chinese Welfare State: Chinese Perceptions of Distributive Justice” focuses on how Chinese citizens’ experiences, perceptions, norms and values relate to the development of China’s social security regime.

It is well established that China has seen rapid growth in inequalities since Reform and Opening up. How Chinese citizens perceive inequalities is less understood. The conventional view in discussions about welfare in China is that despite great progress in improving living conditions and reducing poverty, large segments of the population are dissatisfied with increasing inequalities and see current distribution systems as unfair. However, some studies indicate the opposite, documenting widespread acceptance of inequalities and belief in market based distribution principles in China.

The project will collect and analyse data on how Chinese citizens see these issues. In the summer of 2014 the project undertakes a national survey of perceptions of distributive justice in China. The survey builds on and is comparable to previous studies of perceptions on inequality and distributive injustice in China conducted by Harvard University and Beijing University in 2004 and 2009. In addition, experiments exploring normative dilemmas in welfare design will be conducted in China.


Funding for the project is mainly provided by the Norwegian Research Council, with additional survey financing granted by the Norwegian Embassy in Beijing.


Collaborating partners