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Aspirations, Adaptation and Subjective Well-Being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China

  • John Knight
  • Ramani Gunatilaka

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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File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper381.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 381.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2008
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:381
Contact details of provider: Postal: Manor Rd. Building, Oxford, OX1 3UQ
Web page: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/
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  1. Christopher F Baum & Mark E. Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2002. "Instrumental variables and GMM: Estimation and testing," United Kingdom Stata Users' Group Meetings 2003 02, Stata Users Group.
  2. Easterlin, Richard A., 2006. "Life cycle happiness and its sources: Intersections of psychology, economics, and demography," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 463-482, August.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  7. Carol Graham, 2005. "Insights on Development from the Economics of Happiness," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(2), pages 201-231.
  8. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
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