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Subjective Social Status, Income Inequality and Subjective Perceptions of Mobility (2003-2013)

Social Sciences in China

Vol. 40, No. 3, 2019

 

Subjective Social Status, Income Inequality and Subjective Perceptions of Mobility (2003-2013)

(Abstract)

 

Chen Yunsong and Fan Xiaoguang

 

Using a sample of over 90,000 urban and rura1 residents from the Chinese Social Survey (CSS) and China Genera1 Social Survey (CGSS) from 2003 to 2013, we analyzed the structural features and influencing factors underlying subjective social status in China. Our findings indicate that over these years, such identification has consistently assumed the shape of a bowling pin: those who “identify with a low social status” account for more than half of respondents, a much higher proportion than in most countries. At the individual level, the net effect on subjective social status of such objective indicators as education, income and occupation has been relatively small, and lessened over the ten years. The correlation between subjective perceptions of mobility and subjective social status is quite strong, but the upward impetus provided by perceptions of upward mobility weakened over the period. At the macro-level, the tempo of economic growth failed to raise the level of class identification, and income inequality had a markedly negative effect. Our research findings further demonstrate that curbing the income gap and increasing opportunities for mobility are important for raising the level of class identification during the transition period.

 

Keywords: class identification, subjective social status, social stratification, income inequality, social mobility