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Identity, Inequality, and Happiness: Evidence from Urban China


  • Jiang, Shiqing
  • Lu, Ming
  • Sato, Hiroshi


This paper presents the impact of income inequality on subjective well-being using data from the 2002 Chinese Household Income Project (CHIP) Survey. We find that people feel unhappy with between-group inequality, as measured by the income gap between migrants without local urban hukou (household registration identity) and urban residents, irrespective of whether they are urban residents with or without local hukou. However, when we control for identity-related inequality and other individual, household, and city-level characteristics, inequality (as measured by city-level Gini coefficients) positively correlates with happiness. This study contributes to the inequality–happiness literature by distinguishing between the different effects of between-group and general inequality on happiness.

Suggested Citation

  • Jiang, Shiqing & Lu, Ming & Sato, Hiroshi, 2012. "Identity, Inequality, and Happiness: Evidence from Urban China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1190-1200.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:40:y:2012:i:6:p:1190-1200
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2011.11.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    inequality; hukou identity; happiness; migration; Asia; China;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population


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