“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, Sep 27, 2015
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    • "income effect shows that migrants who felt they were poor experience relative deprivation. Appleton and Song (2008) and Knight et al. (2009) find evidence of relative deprivation in urban China and rural China, respectively. However, previous literature on the relative deprivation seldom pays attention to the fact that the reported income status could be false. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper identifies determinants to positively influence the happiness level of rural-to-urban migrants at the bottom of the distribution of subjective well being (SWB) using an unconditional quantile regression rather than the conventional mean regression methodology. Using a basic regression specification, the positive effects of income and objective health status and the negative effect of work hours are found to be decreasing along the distribution of SWB, suggesting that standard factors are more relevant to the SWB of the subgroup of less happy migrants. Education seems to play a stabilizing role as it decreases the likelihood of extremes in well-being. From an examination of social insurance coverage and relative concerns, a positive relationship between pension and SWB is observed for the first time in happiness literature on Chinese migrants, suggesting interesting future research directions on the policy effects of the newly established New Rural Social Pension scheme on improving the SWB of people with rural hukou. Furthermore,the signal effect is found when migrants are compared with urban workers and the status effect is found when they are compared with other migrants. However, we find that only perceived, rather than objective income position matters.
    Journal of Happiness Studies 07/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10902-015-9663-3 · 1.88 Impact Factor
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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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    ABSTRACT: Does more money always mean that people are happier with their lives? To test the social comparison hypothesis as applied to happiness, this study uses survey data from the 2002 Chinese Household Income Project to examine the association between household economic resources and happiness in urban China. Household economic resources are measured as both income and assets (e.g., net worth and net worth minus home equity). In addition, the analyses include measures of relative income and relative assets. Results of ordinary least square regression analysis show a positive association of absolute income with the happiness score whereas relative income is negatively associated with happiness. Although household assets are a significant and positive predictor of self-assessments of happiness, measures of relative household assets do not correlate with happiness. Study findings suggest the level of happiness among urban populations could be increased through policies that promote pro-poor growth and equal distribution of economic resources. In addition, introducing asset-building policies as supplements to other social assistance programs may promote happiness.
    Social Indicators Research 03/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11205-015-0936-3 · 1.40 Impact Factor
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