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Happiness and Health in China: The Paradox of Progress

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  • Graham, Carol
  • Zhou, Shaojie
  • Zhang, Junyi

Abstract

Life satisfaction in China declined dramatically precisely at the time of its unprecedented economic growth and poverty reduction. We posit that a “progress paradox” is among the possible channels explaining these contrasting trends. Using data from the Chinese Livelihood Survey, we explore the role of reported physical and psychological health. The standard correlates of life satisfaction—such as age, income, and health—hold. In addition, we find that those with insufficient rest and leisure are significantly less satisfied. Urban, educated respondents are more likely to report depression, while rural and uneducated respondents are more satisfied with their lives and are less likely to report poor mental health. We also find that insufficient rest, stress, and low life satisfaction have a strong correlation with mental health problems. Given the gains in growth and poverty reduction in China, it is time to consider policies that focus on quality of life and mental illness.

Suggested Citation

  • Graham, Carol & Zhou, Shaojie & Zhang, Junyi, 2017. "Happiness and Health in China: The Paradox of Progress," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 231-244.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:231-244
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.03.009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Progress paradoxes in China, India, and the US: A tale of growing but unhappy countries
      by Carol Graham, Sergio Pinto in Up Front on 2018-10-20 13:27:57

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    Cited by:

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    2. Duan, Wenjie & Bu, He & Chen, Zheng, 2020. "COVID-19-related stigma profiles and risk factors among people who are at high risk of contagion," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 266(C).
    3. Yishu Zhou & Jingyi Liu, 2020. "Air Pollution and Mental Health of Older Adults in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(3), pages 1-13, January.
    4. Mansi Jain & Gagan Deep Sharma & Mandeep Mahendru, 2019. "Can I Sustain My Happiness? A Review, Critique and Research Agenda for Economics of Happiness," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(22), pages 1-36, November.
    5. Yaolin Liu & Ying Jing & Enxiang Cai & Jiaxing Cui & Yang Zhang & Yiyun Chen, 2017. "How Leisure Venues Are and Why? A Geospatial Perspective in Wuhan, Central China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(10), pages 1-21, October.
    6. Wang, Qing & Tapia Granados, José A., 2019. "Economic growth and mental health in 21st century China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 220(C), pages 387-395.

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