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Aspirations, Adaptation and Subjective Well-Being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China

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  • John Knight
  • Ramani Gunatilaka

Abstract

This research is among the first to link the literatures on migration and on subjective well-being in developing countries.� It poses the question: why do rural-urban migrant households settled in urban China have an average happiness score lower than that of rural households?� It examines the hypothesis that migrants have false expectations because they cannot foresee how their aspirations will adapt to their new situation, and draws on research on both psychology and sociology.� Estimated happiness functions and decomposition analyses, based on a 2002 national household survey, suggest that their high aspirations in relation to achievement, influenced by their new reference groups, make for unhappiness.� The evidence is consistent with the hypothesis.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 381.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2008
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:381

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Keywords: Rural-Urban Migration; Subjective Well-Being; Happiness; Relative Deprivation; Aspirations; China;

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  1. Christopher F Baum & Mark E. Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2002. "Instrumental variables and GMM: Estimation and testing," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 545, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 14 Feb 2003.
  2. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2010. "The Rural-Urban Divide in China: Income but Not Happiness?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 506-534.
  3. Easterlin, Richard A., 2006. "Life cycle happiness and its sources: Intersections of psychology, economics, and demography," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 463-482, August.
  4. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. C. Graham & S. Pettinato, 2002. "Frustrated Achievers: Winners, Losers and Subjective Well-Being in New Market Economies," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 100-140.
  6. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  7. Carol Graham, 2005. "Insights on Development from the Economics of Happiness," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 20(2), pages 201-231.
  8. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2007. "Great Expectations? The Subjective Well-Being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China," Economics Series Working Papers 322, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Shiqing Jiang & Ming Lu & Hiroshi Sato, 2009. "Happiness in the Dual Society of Urban China: Hukou Identity, Horizontal Inequality and Heterogeneous," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd08-020, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  2. Frijters, Paul & Liu, Amy Y.C. & Meng, Xin, 2012. "Are optimistic expectations keeping the Chinese happy?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 159-171.
  3. Dedehouanou, Senakpon & Maertens, Miet, 2011. "Participation in Modern Agri-Food Supply Chain in Senegal and Happiness," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland, European Association of Agricultural Economists 114447, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  4. Ingrid Nielsen & Russell Smyth & Qingguo Zhai, 2010. "Subjective Well-Being of China’s Off-Farm Migrants," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 315-333, June.
  5. Zhiming Cheng, 2014. "Layoffs and Urban Poverty in the State-Owned Enterprise Communities in Shaanxi Province, China," Social Indicators Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 116(1), pages 199-233, March.
  6. Guillen-Royo, Monica, 2011. "Reference group consumption and the subjective wellbeing of the poor in Peru," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 259-272, March.
  7. 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, Springer, vol. 118(1), pages 235-246, August.

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