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  • Haifeng Huang


Why are Chinese people moving abroad in unprecedented numbers? Using unique experimental and survey data, this research finds that Chinese citizens with more positive perceptions and, especially, overestimation of foreign socioeconomic conditions are more interested in going abroad. Moreover, correcting socioeconomic overestimation of foreign countries reduces their interest in leaving China, indicating that there is a causal effect from rosier perceptions of foreign conditions to higher interest in going abroad, and emigration does not always represent well-informed “voting with the feet.” The relationship between international political knowledge and exit intentions, on the other hand, is not significant or consistent, suggesting that Chinese citizens’ interest in going abroad is more socioeconomic than political in nature. These results contribute to the study of citizen misinformation, challenge a prevalent assumption in the international migration literature, and help us understand one of the most important social trends in the world's largest developing and authoritarian country.

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