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Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China

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  • KNIGHT, John
  • SONG, Lina
  • GUNATILAKA, Ramani

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:20:y:2009:i:4:p:635-649
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    Keywords

    Happiness Subjective well-being Aspirations Relative deprivation Reference groups Poverty China;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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