China's Ideological Spectrum

Forthcoming, The Journal of Politics

56 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2015 Last revised: 9 Mar 2017

See all articles by Jennifer Pan

Jennifer Pan

Harvard University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Yiqing Xu

Stanford University

Date Written: March 7, 2017


The study of ideology in authoritarian regimes --- of how public preferences are configured and constrained --- has received relatively little scholarly attention. Using data from a large-scale online survey, we study ideology in China. We find that public preferences are weakly constrained, and the configuration of preferences is multi-dimensional, but the latent traits of these dimensions are highly correlated. Those who prefer authoritarian rule are more likely to support nationalism, state intervention in the economy, and traditional social values; those who prefer democratic institutions and values are less likely to be nationalistic or support traditional social values but more likely to support market reforms. This latter set of preferences appears more in provinces with higher levels of development and among wealthier and better educated respondents. These findings suggest preferences are not simply split along a pro-regime or anti-regime cleavage, and indicate a possible link between China's economic reform and societal cleavages.

Keywords: ideology, authoritarianism, political cleavage, China, factor analysis

Suggested Citation

Pan, Jennifer and Xu, Yiqing, China's Ideological Spectrum (March 7, 2017). Forthcoming, The Journal of Politics. Available at SSRN: or

Jennifer Pan

Harvard University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ( email )

Byerly Hall
8 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yiqing Xu (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States


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