Disparities in Social Insurance Participation and Urban Identification Among In-situ Urbanized Residents in China

China’s in-situ urbanization implies a phenomenon where rural populations become new urbanites as their land was reclassified as urban. While studies have suggested that social insurance may play a role in encouraging urban identification, empirical evidence in this field remains scarce. Highlighting the identity construction experience of in-situ urbanized residents, this study assesses the efficacy of major health and pension insurance in promoting a sense of urban identity in the context of China’s rapid urbanization. We analyze data from the 2018 Urbanization and Quality of Life Survey (N = 3,229) conducted in 40 localities that undergo in-situ urbanization. Results of multi-level modelling show that those participating in urban insurance schemes such as the Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance (UEBMI) are more likely to identify as urban. Enrollment in the New Rural Social Pension Scheme (NRSPS), however, is negatively associated with urban identification. There are also variations associated with the interaction of social insurance and hukou status. To promote future urban integration of in-situ urbanized residents, it is vital to build an equitable, efficient, and equal-access social insurance system in urbanizing China.