China’s Social Credit Systems and Public Opinion: Explaining High Levels of Approval

31 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2018 Last revised: 25 Dec 2018

Date Written: July 23, 2018


A variety of commercial and local government Social Credit Systems (SCSs) are now being implemented in China in order to steer the behavior of Chinese individuals, businesses, social organizations and government agencies. Previous research finds that these SCSs are employed by the Chinese state as ‘surveillance infrastructure’ and for social management. This paper focuses on a different angle: the public’s opinion of SCSs. Based on a cross-regional survey, the study finds a surprisingly high degree of approval of SCSs across respondent groups. Interestingly, more socially advantaged citizens (wealthier, better-educated and urban residents) show the strongest approval of SCSs, along with older people. While one might expect such knowledgeable citizens to be most concerned about the privacy implications of SCS, they instead appear to embrace SCSs because they interpret it through frames of benefit-generation and promoting honest dealings in society and the economy instead of privacy-violation.

Keywords: Social Credit System, Rating Systems, Public Opinion, Reputational Systems, Social Management, China

JEL Classification: P00, O38, O33, O53, O18, H79, H10, H81

Suggested Citation

Kostka, Genia, China’s Social Credit Systems and Public Opinion: Explaining High Levels of Approval (July 23, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Genia Kostka (Contact Author)

Freie Universität, Berlin ( email )

Boltzmannstr. 3
Berlin, 14195

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