Aspirations, Adaptation and Subjective Well-Being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China
This research is among 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? It examines the hypothesis that migrants have false expectations because they cannot foresee how their aspirations will adapt to their new situation, and draws on research on both psychology and sociology. Estimated happiness functions and decomposition analyses, based on a 2002 national household survey, suggest that their high aspirations in relation to achievement, influenced by their new reference groups, make for unhappiness. The evidence is consistent with the hypothesis.
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