IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/oxf/wpaper/322.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Great Expectations? The Subjective Well-Being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China

Author

Listed:
  • John Knight
  • Ramani Gunatilaka

Abstract

This paper may be the first to link the literatures on migration and on subjective well-being in developing countries. It poses the question: why do rural-urban migrant households settled in urban China have an average happiness score lower than that of rural households? Three basic hypotheses are examined: migrants had false expectations about their future urban conditions, or about their future urban aspirations, or about their future selves. Estimated happiness functions and decomposition analyses, based on a 2002 national household survey, indicate that certain features of migrant conditions make for unhappiness, and that their high aspirations in relation to achievement, influenced by reference groups, also make for unhappiness. It is difficult to form unbiased expectations about life in a new and different world.

Suggested Citation

  • John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2007. "Great Expectations? The Subjective Well-Being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China," Economics Series Working Papers 322, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:322
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:90a35ab8-106b-40cc-a3a2-48d94eda8d95
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Christopher F Baum & Mark E. Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2003. "Instrumental variables and GMM: Estimation and testing," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 3(1), pages 1-31, March.
    2. Knight, John & Song, Lina, 1999. "The Rural-Urban Divide: Economic Disparities and Interactions in China," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293309.
    3. Fafchamps, Marcel & Shilpi, Forhad, 2008. "Subjective welfare, isolation, and relative consumption," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 43-60, April.
    4. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    5. Rachel Sabates-Wheeler & Ricardo Sabates & Adriana Castaldo, 2008. "Tackling Poverty-migration Linkages: Evidence from Ghana and Egypt," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 87(2), pages 307-328, June.
    6. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Stress that Doesn't Pay: The Commuting Paradox," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(2), pages 339-366, June.
    7. Zhao, Yaohui, 1999. "Labor Migration and Earnings Differences: The Case of Rural China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(4), pages 767-782, July.
    8. C. Graham & S. Pettinato, 2002. "Frustrated Achievers: Winners, Losers and Subjective Well-Being in New Market Economies," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 100-140.
    9. Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi & Knight, John, 2007. "Community, comparisons and subjective well-being in a divided society," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 69-90, September.
    10. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward, 1991. "Migration Incentives, Migration Types: The Role of Relative Deprivation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1163-1178, September.
    11. 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.
    12. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    13. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward, 1991. "Migration Incentives, Migration Types: The Role of Relative Deprivation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1163-1178, September.
    14. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-484, July.
    15. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    16. Christopher F Baum & Vince Wiggins & Steven Stillman & Mark E Schaffer & Frank Windmeijer, 1999. "OVERID: Stata module to conduct postestimation tests of overidentification," Statistical Software Components S396902, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 29 Sep 2020.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. KNIGHT, John & SONG, Lina & GUNATILAKA, Ramani, 2009. "Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 635-649, December.
    2. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2012. "Relative concerns of rural-to-urban migrants in China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 421-441.
    3. Andrew E. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Will GDP growth increase happiness in developing countries?," PSE Working Papers halshs-00564985, HAL.
    4. Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi & Knight, John, 2007. "Community, comparisons and subjective well-being in a divided society," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 69-90, September.
    5. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilak, 2014. "Subjective Well-being and Social Evaluation in a Poor Country," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-09, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    6. Kuegler, Alice, 2009. "A Curse of Comparison? Evidence on Reference Groups for Relative Income Concerns," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4820, The World Bank.
    7. Alpaslan Akay & Olivier Bargain & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2017. "Home Sweet Home?: Macroeconomic Conditions in Home Countries and the Well-Being of Migrants," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 52(2), pages 351-373.
    8. Senakpon F. A. Dedehouanou & Johan Swinnen & Miet Maertens, 2013. "Does Contracting Make Farmers Happy? Evidence from Senegal," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59, pages 138-160, October.
    9. Jinan Zeidan, 2015. "Are Comparisons Luxuries? Subjective Poverty and Positional Concerns in Indonesia," AMSE Working Papers 1505, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, France.
    10. M. Hendriks & M. J. Burger, 2020. "Unsuccessful Subjective Well-Being Assimilation Among Immigrants: The Role of Faltering Perceptions of the Host Society," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 21(6), pages 1985-2006, August.
    11. Asena Caner, 2016. "Happiness and Life Satisfaction in Turkey in Recent Years," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 361-399, May.
    12. Namrata Chindarkar, 2014. "Is Subjective Well-Being of Concern to Potential Migrants from Latin America?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 115(1), pages 159-182, January.
    13. Sakketa, T.G., 2018. "Relative Deprivation in Income, Assets, and Social Capital: Motivational and Deterrent Impacts on the Well-Being of Rural Youth," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277116, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    14. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2017. "Is Happiness Infectious?," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 64(1), pages 1-24, February.
    15. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2006. "Income and happiness: Evidence, explanations and economic implications," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590436, HAL.
    16. Merton, Robert C, 1978. "On the Cost of Deposit Insurance When There Are Surveillance Costs," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(3), pages 439-452, July.
    17. Knight, John & Gunatilaka, Ramani, 2012. "Income, aspirations and the Hedonic Treadmill in a poor society," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 67-81.
    18. Eduardo Pérez-Asenjo, 2011. "If happiness is relative, against whom do we compare ourselves? Implications for labour supply," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(4), pages 1411-1442, October.
    19. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2008. "Aspirations, Adaptation and Subjective Well-Being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China," Economics Series Working Papers 381, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Rural-urban migration; Subjective well-being; Happiness; Relative deprivation; Aspirations; China;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:322. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sfeixuk.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Anne Pouliquen The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask Anne Pouliquen to update the entry or send us the correct address (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sfeixuk.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.