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Are optimistic expectations keeping the Chinese happy?

  • Frijters, Paul
  • Liu, Amy Y.C.
  • Meng, Xin

In this paper we study the effect of optimistic income expectations on life satisfaction amongst the Chinese population. Using a large scale household survey conducted in 2002 we find that the level of optimism about the future is particularly strong in the countryside and amongst rural-to-urban migrants. The importance of these expectations for life satisfaction is particularly pronounced in the urban areas, though also highly significant for the rural area. If expectations were to reverse from positive to negative, we calculate that this would have doubled the proportion of unhappy people and reduced proportion of very happy people by 48 per cent. We perform several robustness checks to see if the results are driven by variations in precautionary savings or reverse causality.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 81 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 159-171

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:1:p:159-171
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. 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.
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  3. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  8. Grip Andries de & Lindeboom Maarten & Montizaan Raymond, 2009. "Shattered Dreams: The Effects of Changing the Pension System Late in the Game," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
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  10. Song, Lina & Appleton, Simon, 2008. "Life Satisfaction in Urban China: Components and Determinants," MPRA Paper 8347, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Souleles, Nicholas S, 2004. "Expectations, Heterogeneous Forecast Errors, and Consumption: Micro Evidence from the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Surveys," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(1), pages 39-72, February.
  12. Michael Hagerty, 2003. "Was Life Better in the “Good Old Days”? Intertemporal Judgments of Life Satisfaction," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 115-139, June.
  13. 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.
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  17. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
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  19. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521771269 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Grip Andries de & Lindeboom Maarten & Montizaan Raymond, 2009. "Dreams: The Effects of Changing the Pension System Late in the Game," Research Memorandum 043, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
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