Chinese perceive upward social mobility: How future mobility is influenced, but not limited by past mobility

Hongfei Du, Yue Liang, Peilian Chi, Ronnel B. King
Published Online:
10 May 2021

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Perceptions of social mobility vary across countries. However, past studies have mostly focused on populations in Western developed countries. Little is known about perceptions of social mobility in non‐Western developing countries. The current paper focuses on Chinese perceptions of social mobility using a large‐scale nationally representative sample. We found that, overall, Chinese believed in upward social mobility. Moreover, different patterns of perceptions of social mobility were identified, which suggest that respondents experienced either upward or downward social mobility in the past, but all of them thought that they can move up in the future. Perceptions of social mobility were also linked to important sociodemographic and economic factors. We discuss these findings in relation to the Chinese economic context.

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