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Inequality and Happiness in Urban China

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell Smyth & Xiaolei Qian, 2008. "Inequality and Happiness in Urban China," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 4(24), pages 1-10.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-08d30003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 2009-2042.
    2. 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, July.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Senik, Claudia, 2004. "When information dominates comparison: Learning from Russian subjective panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 2099-2123.
    6. Claudia Biancotti & Giovanni D'Alessio, 2007. "Inequality and Happiness," Working Papers 75, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    7. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    8. Carol Graham & Andrew Felton, 2006. "Inequality and happiness: Insights from Latin America," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, pages 107-122.
    9. Lester C. Thurow, 1971. "The Income Distribution as a Pure Public Good," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(2), pages 327-336.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness;

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution

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