This article studies the causes for unequal access to rural community and social development infrastructures in China. We use a dataset in the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (2011–2012), the National Baseline Survey of Communities, to examine the availability of four types of infrastructures: public transportation, sanitation, health care and aged care. Three hundred and seven villages are included in this study. The findings suggest that the primary funder of infrastructures and the status of village governance have impacts on the unequal availability of rural infrastructures. The effects vary by the type of infrastructures under discussion. This is the first attempt to combine planning, finance and governance factors in explaining rural infrastructure availability. It has strong policy implications and shed important light on state–society relations and the urbanisation trends in China.