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Less advantaged, more optimistic? Subjective well-being among rural, migrant and urban populations in contemporary China

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  • Cai, Shu
  • Wang, Jia

Abstract

Using a recent national dataset from the China Family Panel Studies, this study provides new evidence regarding the subjective well-being puzzle across multiple indicators among rural, migrant and urban populations in contemporary China. The results show that rural people on average have higher levels of life satisfaction than do migrants or urban residents, despite their disadvantaged economic situations. The decomposition analyses reveal that subjective social status plays a substantial role in accounting for group disparities in life satisfaction, whereas objective social status and experiences of social mobility have less explanatory power. These findings suggest the importance of within-group comparison in shaping individuals' well-being in segregated societies such as China.

Suggested Citation

  • Cai, Shu & Wang, Jia, 2018. "Less advantaged, more optimistic? Subjective well-being among rural, migrant and urban populations in contemporary China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 95-110.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:52:y:2018:i:c:p:95-110
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2018.06.005
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Migrants; Social mobility; Socioeconomic status; Subjective well-being; Within-group comparison;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General

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