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Subjective Well-being and its Determinants in Rural China

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  • John Knight
  • Lina Song

Abstract

A national household survey for 2002, containing a specially designed module on subjective well-being, is used to estimate pioneering happiness functions in rural China. The variables predicted by economic theory to be important for happiness are relatively unimportant. The analysis suggests that we need to draw on psychology and sociology if we are to understand. Rural China is not a hotbed of dissatisfaction with life, possibly because most people are found to confine their reference groups to the village. Relative income within the village and relative income over time, both in the past and expected in the future, are shown to influence happiness. `Subjective well-being poverty` functions are estimated, in which income and various proxies for `capabilities` and `functionings` appear as arguments. Even amidst the poverty of rural China, social functionings, attitudes and expectations are important to subjective well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • John Knight & Lina Song, 2007. "Subjective Well-being and its Determinants in Rural China," Economics Series Working Papers 334, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:334
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Subjective Well-being; Aspirations; Relative Deprivation; Reference Groups; Poverty; China;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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