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The dark side of Chinese growth: Explaining decreasing well-being in times of economic boom

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  • Bartolini, Stefano
  • Sarracino, Francesco

Abstract

The formidable economic growth of China in the past few decades led to outstanding improvements in virtually all objective indicators of standards of life. However, these objective records are in striking contrast with subjective ones. Between 1990 and 2007, Chinese average subjective well-being substantially declined. Using data from the World Values Survey, this paper identifies the predictors of the trend of life satisfaction in China between 1990 and 2007. Our findings suggest that subjective data capture something that objective data miss and that can explain the decrease in well-being: the increase in the importance of social comparisons and the decline of social capital. Moreover, economic growth resulted in higher well-being inequality: those in the lowest three income deciles and the middle-class experienced a significant reduction in well-being, whereas the latter increased among richer people. Differences in the erosion of social capital and in the impact of social comparisons seem to be the key to well-being differences among classes.

Suggested Citation

  • Bartolini, Stefano & Sarracino, Francesco, 2014. "The dark side of Chinese growth: Explaining decreasing well-being in times of economic boom," MPRA Paper 57765, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:57765
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/57765/1/MPRA_paper_57765.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefano Bartolini, 2014. "Building sustainability through greater happiness," Department of Economics University of Siena 703, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    2. Mikucka, Malgorzata & Sarracino, Francesco, 2014. "Making economic growth and well-being compatible: the role of trust and income inequality," MPRA Paper 59695, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; Easterlin paradox; GDP; economic growth; subjective well-being; life satisfaction; social capital; Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition; WVS;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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