Determinants of Redistributive Preferences in Contemporary China

Last registered on March 15, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Determinants of Redistributive Preferences in Contemporary China
Initial registration date
March 14, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
March 15, 2022, 8:06 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Paris School of Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Paris School of Economics
PI Affiliation
Harvard University

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
As a transitional economy featuring high growth and high mobility, China presents a case where we observe its citizens having high demands for government responsibility to reduce inequalities and accept the deservingness of the rich by rejecting effective redistribution. To explain the sources of such preferences combinations, we develop several hypotheses and test them using an online survey experiment with a nationally representative sample of 2,500 Chinese citizens. We find that Chinese citizens exhibit strong support for inequality-reducing policies of real personal stakes and income regulation. Priming the "unmeritocratic" component of the income-generating process in either becoming rich or staying poor significantly reduces support for redistributive policies targeted explicitly at taxing the rich, as well as support for the government to regulate the income gap. This effect is mainly driven by those who self-report to have relatively low economic pressure.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Chen, Yuqian, Yuchen Huang and Zhexun Mo. 2022. "Determinants of Redistributive Preferences in Contemporary China." AEA RCT Registry. March 15.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Support for redistributive policies
Opinions on government duty
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We have all together 4 information treatments:

- Rich by Luck/Poor by Luck treatment: we plan to show the respondents typical stories of getting rich and getting poor through luck (that is to say not by personal effort) and see whether their support for redistributive policies would decrease separately. An additional treatment is applied to half of the sample, which is an information slide on the tax system and budget in China, for we hope to see whether a salience on budget balance would realign the mismatched attitude between helping the rich & taxing the poor.
- Micro/macro discourse treatment: two treatment groups will receive information about a redistributive policy (property tax), emphasising respectively the impact on macroeconomy and specific households of representative wealth. We expect to see whether the respondents will increase their support when primed on the macro-economic positive influence instead of the micro-economic loss.
- Growth as precondition of redistribution treatment: one treatment group will receive information about the trade-off between growth and redistribution in the context of Chinese history.
- Income updating treatment: one treatment group will be invited to guess their relative income position and social mobility in China today. Then they will receive information on their actual income position and actual mobility.

There are 8 treatment arms and with the control group, we have 9 groups in total.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The survey was executed through a Chinese survey company. They are in charge of collection of data as well as the randomisation procedure and randomise by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
2500 respondents
Sample size: planned number of observations
2500 respondents
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
300 people for the control group, 250 or 200 people per treatment arm.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Paris School of Economics' Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Harvard University-Area Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
September 15, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
September 15, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
2500 individuals
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
2500 individuals
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

The Libertarian that Demands Redistribution: An Online Experiment on Redistributive Preferences in Contemporary China
Nora Yuqian Chen, Yucheng Huang, Zhexun Fred Mo. The Libertarian that Demands Redistribution: An Online Experiment on Redistributive Preferences in Contemporary China. 2021. ⟨halshs-03496033⟩

Reports & Other Materials