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China's Life Satisfaction, 1990-2010

Author

Listed:
  • Easterlin, Richard A.

    (University of Southern California)

  • Morgan, Robson

    (University of Southern California)

  • Switek, Malgorzata

    (University of Southern California)

  • Wang, Fei

    (Renmin University of China)

Abstract

Despite its unprecedented growth in output per capita in the last two decades, China has essentially followed the life satisfaction trajectory of the central and eastern European transition countries – a U-shaped swing and a nil or declining trend. There is no evidence of an increase in life satisfaction of the magnitude that might have been expected to result from the fourfold improvement in the level of per capita consumption that has occurred. As in the European countries, in China the trend and U-shaped pattern appear to be related to a pronounced rise in unemployment followed by a mild decline, and an accompanying dissolution of the social safety net along with growing income inequality. The burden of worsening life satisfaction in China has fallen chiefly on the lowest socioeconomic groups. An initially highly egalitarian distribution of life satisfaction has been replaced by an increasingly unequal one, with decreasing life satisfaction in persons in the bottom third of the income distribution and increasing life satisfaction in those in the top third.

Suggested Citation

  • Easterlin, Richard A. & Morgan, Robson & Switek, Malgorzata & Wang, Fei, 2013. "China's Life Satisfaction, 1990-2010," IZA Discussion Papers 7196, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7196
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic growth; Easterlin Paradox; happiness; life satisfaction; subjective well-being; transition countries; China;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

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