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Subjective Well-Being of China’s Off-Farm Migrants

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  • Ingrid Nielsen

    ()

  • Russell Smyth

    ()

  • Qingguo Zhai

    ()

Abstract

Existing research applying the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) in China is restricted to urban and rural samples. There are no studies for Chinese off-farm migrants. The specific aims of this study are (a) ascertain whether Chinese off-farm are satisfied with their lives; (b) investigate the equivalence of the PWI in terms of its psychometric properties; and (c) examine whether the responses to the PWI from participants falls within the narrow range predicted by the 'Theory of Subjective Wellbeing Homeostasis???. The PWI demonstrated good psychometric performance in terms of its reliability, validity and sensibility and was consistent with previous studies for Western and non-Western samples. The data revealed a moderate level of subjective well-being (PWI score = 62.6). While Chinese off-farm migrants lead hard lives, the PWI was within the normative range predicted for Chinese societies by the 'Theory of Subjective Wellbeing Homeostasis'. A likely explanation for this finding rests with the circular nature of migration in China. When China's offfarm migrants find it too difficult to cope in the cities, most have the fallback position that they can return to their homes in the countryside. This option provides an external buffer to minimize the inherent challenges of life which would otherwise impinge on the life satisfaction of China's off-farm migrants.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Happiness Studies.

Volume (Year): 11 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 315-333

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Handle: RePEc:spr:jhappi:v:11:y:2010:i:3:p:315-333

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Keywords: China; Subjective well-being; Personal wellbeing index;

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References

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  1. Song, Lina & Appleton, Simon, 2008. "Life Satisfaction in Urban China: Components and Determinants," MPRA Paper 8347, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Robert Cummins & Helen Nistico, 2002. "Maintaining Life Satisfaction: The Role of Positive Cognitive Bias," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 37-69, March.
  3. Russell Smyth & Ingrid Nielsen & Qingguo Zhai, 2010. "Personal Well-being in Urban China," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 95(2), pages 231-251, January.
  4. Russell Smyth & Xiaolei Qian, 2008. "Inequality and Happiness in Urban China," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 4(24), pages 1-10.
  5. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2008. "Aspirations, Adaptation and Subjective Well-Being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China," Economics Series Working Papers 381, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. Kau Keng & Wang Hooi, 1995. "Assessing quality of life in Singapore: An exploratory study," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 71-91, May.
  7. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:4:y:2008:i:24:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Chau-kiu Cheung & Kwan-kwok Leung, 2008. "Ways by which Comparable Income Affects Life Satisfaction in Hong Kong," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 87(1), pages 169-187, May.
  9. Weiping Wu, 2004. "Sources of migrant housing disadvantage in urban China," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 36(7), pages 1285-1304, July.
  10. Daniela Renn & Nicole Pfaffenberger & Marion Platter & Horst Mitmansgruber & Robert Cummins & Stefan Höfer, 2009. "International Well-being Index: The Austrian Version," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 90(2), pages 243-256, January.
  11. Roberts, Kenneth D., 2001. "The determinants of job choice by rural labor migrants in Shanghai," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 15-39.
  12. Ingrid Nielsen & Russell Smyth & Mingqiong Zhang, 2006. "Unemployment Within China's Floating Population: Empirical Evidence from Jiangsu Survey Data," Chinese Economy, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 39(4), pages 41-56, August.
  13. Smyth, Russell & Mishra, Vinod & Qian, Xiaolei, 2008. "The Environment and Well-Being in Urban China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1-2), pages 547-555, December.
  14. Robert Cummins, 1995. "On the trail of the gold standard for subjective well-being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 179-200, June.
  15. Knight, John & Gunatilaka, Ramani, 2010. "Great Expectations? The Subjective Well-being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 113-124, January.
  16. KNIGHT, John & SONG, Lina & GUNATILAKA, Ramani, 2009. "Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 635-649, December.
  17. Song, Lina & Appleton, Simon, 2008. "Social Protection and Migration in China: What Can Protect Migrants from Economic Uncertainty?," IZA Discussion Papers 3594, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. David Webb, 2009. "Subjective Wellbeing on the Tibetan Plateau: An Exploratory Investigation," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 10(6), pages 753-768, December.
  19. Chau-Kiu Cheung & Kwan-Kwok Leung, 2004. "Forming Life Satisfaction among Different Social Groups during the Modernization of China," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 23-56, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Steven Stillman & John Gibson & David McKenzie & Halahingano Rohorua, 2012. "Miserable Migrants? Natural Experiment Evidence on International Migration and Objective and Subjective Well-Being," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1228, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  2. Ingrid Nielsen & Sen Sendjaya, 2014. "Wellbeing Among Indonesian Labour Migrants to Malaysia: Implications of the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 919-938, July.
  3. repec:mos:druwps:2009-03 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. 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.
  5. Rongwei Chu & Henry Hail, 2014. "Winding Road Toward the Chinese Dream: The U-shaped Relationship Between Income and Life Satisfaction Among Chinese Migrant Workers," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 118(1), pages 235-246, August.
  6. Gareth Davey & Ricardo Rato, 2012. "Subjective Wellbeing in China: A Review," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 333-346, April.
  7. Feng Hu, 2013. "Homeownership and Subjective Wellbeing in Urban China: Does Owning a House Make You Happier?," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 951-971, February.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Ricardo Rato & Gareth Davey, 2012. "Quality of Life in Macau, China," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 105(1), pages 93-108, January.
  11. Chau-kiu Cheung & Raymond Ngan, 2012. "Filtered Life Satisfaction and Its Socioeconomic Determinants in Hong Kong," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 109(2), pages 223-242, November.
  12. Ingrid Nielsen & Olga Paritski & Russell Smyth, 2010. "Subjective Well-Being of Beijing Taxi Drivers," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(6), pages 721-733, December.
  13. Carlsson, Fredrik & Lampi, Elina & Li, Wanxin & Martinsson, Peter, 2014. "Subjective well-being among preadolescents and their parents – Evidence of intergenerational transmission of well-being from urban China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 11-18.

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