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Inequality and Happiness in Urban China

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  • Russell Smyth

    ()
    (Monash University)

  • Xiaolei Qian

    ()
    (Monash University)

Abstract

This note examines the relationship between inequality and happiness in urban China using a large-scale survey administered in 31 cities in September 2002. We find that those who perceive income distribution to be unequal report lower levels of happiness, although results differ between high and low income individuals. We also examine the effect of reference group income on reported happiness and find that having wealthier city-mates lowers reported happiness, controlling for own income.

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File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/EB/2008/Volume4/EB-08D30003A.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by AccessEcon in its journal Economics Bulletin.

Volume (Year): 4 (2008)
Issue (Month): 24 ()
Pages: 1-10

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Handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-08d30003

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Keywords: Happiness;

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References

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  1. Thurow, Lester C, 1971. "The Income Distribution as a Pure Public Good," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 327-36, May.
  2. Claudia Biancotti & Giovanni D'Alessio, 2007. "Inequality and Happiness," Working Papers 75, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2001. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1938, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
  5. Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  6. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
  7. Carol Graham & Andrew Felton, 2006. "Inequality and happiness: Insights from Latin America," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 107-122, April.
  8. Senik, Claudia, 2004. "When information dominates comparison: Learning from Russian subjective panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2099-2123, August.
  9. Hirschman, Albert O., 1973. "The changing tolerance for income inequality in the course of economic development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 1(12), pages 29-36, December.
  10. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Alem, Yonas & Colmer, Jonathan, 2013. "Optimal Expectations and the Welfare Cost of Climate Variability," Working Papers in Economics 578, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  2. Carlsson, Fredrik & Lampi, Elina & Li, Wanxin & Martinsson, Peter, 2011. "Subjective well-being among preadolescents - Evidence from urban China," Working Papers in Economics 500, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  3. Li, Zhengtao & Folmer, Henk & Xue, Jianhong, 2014. "To what extent does air pollution affect happiness? The case of the Jinchuan mining area, China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 88-99.
  4. Vinod Mishra & Ingrid Nielsen & Russell Smyth, 2010. "Relative Income, Temporary Life Shocks and Subjective Wellbeing in the Long-run," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 51-10, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  5. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00564985 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Vinod Mishra & Ingrid Nielsen & Russell Smyth, 2014. "How Does Relative Income and Variations in Short-Run Wellbeing Affect Wellbeing in the Long Run? Empirical Evidence From China’s Korean Minority," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 115(1), pages 67-91, January.
  7. GAO, Wenshu & SMYTH, Russell, 2010. "Job satisfaction and relative income in economic transition: Status or signal?: The case of urban China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 442-455, September.
  8. Alem, Yonas & Köhlin, Gunnar, 2012. "Life Satisfaction in Urban Ethiopia: Trends and determinants," Working Papers in Economics 548, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  9. Clark, Andrew E. & D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2014. "Attitudes to Income Inequality: Experimental and Survey Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 8136, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Ingrid Nielsen & Russell Smyth & Qingguo Zhai, 2010. "Subjective Well-Being of China’s Off-Farm Migrants," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 315-333, June.
  11. Russell Smyth & Ingrid Nielsen & Qingguo Zhai, 2010. "Personal Well-being in Urban China," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 95(2), pages 231-251, January.
  12. Yonas Alem & Jonathan Colmer, 2013. "Don’t Worry, Be Happy: The Welfare Cost of Climate Variability – A Subjective Well-Being Approach," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 118, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  13. Macunovich, Diane J., 2011. "A Note on Inequality Aversion Across Countries, Using Two New Measures," IZA Discussion Papers 5734, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Zhiming Cheng, 2014. "Layoffs and Urban Poverty in the State-Owned Enterprise Communities in Shaanxi Province, China," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 116(1), pages 199-233, March.

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