Religion and trust in strangers among China's rural-urban migrants




Geng Niu; Guochang Zhao


During China's rapid urbanization, the social marginalization of its rural-urban migrants has attracted increasing scholarly and social attention. At the same time, China is experiencing a rising tide of religion, the impact of which on social integration remains unexplored. Based on a large-scale survey for rural-urban migrants, we find that being a religious believer is associated with a higher level of trust towards strangers. In addition, participating in religious-related activities has a positive impact on trust for both believers and non-believers. We test the robustness of our results using instrumental variable analysis. We conjecture that prosocial values in religious teaching and social interaction opportunities contribute to rural-urban migrants' generalized trust. Our results indicate that informal institution such as religion can be important in forming social capital for marginalized social groups.

Supported by the 111 Project B16040