Deserving Hukou: An Exploration of How Chinese People Evaluate Migrants’ Welfare Deservingness

Andreas Michael Østerby-Jørgensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Within the welfare deservingness literature, the question of how people conceive of deservingness criteria is still underexplored. Theoretical insights indicate that identity and reciprocity criteria are more fluidly conceived by people than much deservingness literature describes. Through a qualitative analysis, I explore how Chinese people evaluate the deservingness of a group of Chinese nationals (identity) who contribute (reciprocity) but are excluded from welfare: intranational Chinese migrants. I find that Chinese people have multiple conceptions of identity and reciprocity criteria. Some conceive of identity through larger communities, such as the nation, while others conceive of it through local communities, such as the family. Reciprocity can be conceived of in a less conditional way, which means that contributions generally make one deserving, and in a more conditional way, where one’s deservingness depends on one’s ability to make more specific kinds of contributions. Welfare recipients’ deservingness becomes very dependent on respondents’ conceptions of these deservingness criteria.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social Policy
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • China
  • Deservingness
  • Keywords:
  • belonging
  • hukou
  • identity
  • reciprocity

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