Identity and trust in government: A comparison of locals and migrants in urban China




Geng Niu; Guochang Zhao


The household registration (hukou) system has been regarded as the root cause of social exclusion in urban China. This article studies social integration in urban China by analysing the relationship between hukou identities, which differentiate citizenship in China, and trust in the central and local governments. Compared to urban locals, both rural migrants and urban migrants have lower levels of trust in the local government, which is consistent with the fact that migrants face hukou-based social exclusion in cities. Regarding trust towards the central government, while urban migrants have the lowest level, rural migrants still maintain a strong faith. Levels of generalized trust, perceptions of inequality and orientations towards authority vary systematically across the three groups of urban populations, thereby contributing to their differing political attitudes. In particular, feelings of political exclusion are prevalent among migrants and significantly erode their political trust. While improving the economic outcomes of migrants is necessary, our paper highlights the importance of promoting political integration among diversified urban populations.

Supported by the 111 Project B16040