Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China

Department of Economics, Manor Road Building, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3UQ, UK; School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK; Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics, Monash University, Australia
China Economic Review 01/2009; 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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May 19, 2014