Using a 2006 household survey from the Ningxia Hui autonomous region in China, this paper examines two aspects of the correlation between ethnicity and income: namely, differences in the returns to human capital and the effects of ethnicity- and religion-related social capital. The findings indicate ethnic disparity in the returns to human capital across rural and urban areas. In rural areas, the returns to human capital for the Hui workforce differ according to the place of economic activity (i.e. local employment or migration), whereas no ethnic disparity is found for the urban workforce. We also find that ethnicity- and religion-related social capital plays a significant role among the Hui in rural areas where the level of interethnic social interactions is lower. We use this to suggest that Muslim-oriented attitudes toward trust in social networks of rural Hui households positively and interactively affect income through ethnically open trust attitudes.