“Subjective Well-Being and Its Determinants in Rural China”

School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK
China Economic Review (Impact Factor: 0.94). 12/2009; 20(4):635-649. DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2008.09.003
Source: RePEc

ABSTRACT A national household survey for 2002, containing a specially designed module on subjective well-being, is used to estimate pioneering happiness functions in rural China. The variables that are predicted by economic theory to be important for happiness prove to be relatively unimportant. Our analysis suggests that we need to draw on psychology and sociology if we are to understand. Rural China is not a hotbed of dissatisfaction with life, possibly because most people are found to confine their reference groups to the village. Relative income within the village and relative income over time, both in the past and expected in the future, are shown to be important for current happiness, whereas current income is less so. Even amidst the poverty of rural China, attitudes, social comparisons and aspirations influence subjective well-being. The implications of the findings for the future and for policy are considered.

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Available from: John Knight, Aug 31, 2015
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    • "Fifth, we have used objective reference points, based on locale and demographic characteristics of the respondents. Future research could use subjective reference groups in which the respondent selects his/her own reference points (see eg. Knight et al., 2009 for a study that does this for income). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines the relationship between consumption and happiness, using panel data from China Family Panel Studies (CFPS). We find that total consumption expenditure has a significant and positive effect on happiness, but we find no evidence of a non-linear relationship between consumption and happiness. There are heterogeneous effects of consumption on happiness across subsamples and for different types of consumption expenditure. We find that relative consumption matters, irrespective if the reference group is defined in terms of consumption at the community or county level or on the basis of age, education and gender. However, the extent to which comparison effects are upward looking, or asymmetric, depend on how the comparison group is defined. We also find that comparison with one's past consumption has no significant effect on an individual's happiness.
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    • "The standardized regression coefficient (beta) of household assets is smaller than the beta coefficient of household income, which suggests the association between assets and happiness is not as strong as the association between income and happiness. To be sure, as demonstrated in the previous research (e.g., Appleton and Song 2008; Brockmann et al. 2009; Hu 2012; Knight et al. 2009; Shu and Zhu 2009), income plays an extremely important role in supporting happiness. However, the importance of household assets on happiness should not be underestimated for three reasons. "
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    • "Our measure of adaptation refers to the individual's own income in the recent past and was constructed by asking respondents to compare their household's current economic situation to that 5 years prior to the time of asking (Knight et al. 2006). Respondents could rank their household's economic situation as ''worse-off'' (=0), ''the same'' (=1) or ''better-off'' (=2). "
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