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Public Opinion towards Return Migration: A Survey Experiment of Chinese Netizens*

  • Qiuqing Tai (a1) and Rory Truex (a2)

China has adopted preferential measures in hopes of luring back overseas talent, but what determines individual attitudes towards returning migrants and policies promoting return migration? This paper addresses this question using an original survey experiment of Chinese netizens. We argue that attitudes towards return migration are driven by two competing perceptions: on one hand, skilled migrants are widely thought to have beneficial effects on the local economy; on the other, domestic citizens may be wary of policies that offer elite returnees excessive benefits. The findings imply that the CCP may face a delicate trade-off between the economic benefits of return migration and the social costs of increasing inequality.


中国政府已经采取了一系列优惠政策吸引海外优秀人才回国创新创业, 但公众对于海归以及吸引海归的这些政策有着怎样的态度呢? 本文通过一次对于中国网民的问卷实验回答这些问题。我们认为, 中国公众对于海归的态度被两种观念驱动。一方面, 受访者引进高技能的海归有助于促进地方经济增长。但另一方面, 受访者对过分偏袒海归的优惠政策感到不满。这些调查结果表面, 中国政府在制定吸引海外优秀人才的政策上需要权衡海归带来的经济利益以及不平等加剧的社会成本之间的关系。

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Financial support for this project was provided by Yale University's MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Leitner Program in Political Economy, and Council on East Asian Studies. Rory Truex thanks the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) for its support.

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