IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Are optimistic expectations keeping the Chinese happy?

  • Paul Frijters



  • Amy Y.C. Liu



  • Xin Meng



In this paper we study the effect of optimistic income expectations on life satisfaction amongst the Chinese population. Using a large scale household survey conducted in 2002 we find that the level of optimism about the future is particularly strong in the countryside and amongst rural-to-urban migrants. The importance of these expectations for life satisfaction is particularly pronounced in the urban areas, though also highly significant for the rural area. If expectations were to reverse from positive to negative, we calculate that this would have doubled the proportion of unhappy people and reduced proportion of very happy people by 48%. We perform several robustness checks to see if the results are driven by variations in precautionary savings or reverse causality.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Centre for Econometric Research in its series NCER Working Paper Series with number 37.

in new window

Length: 45
Date of creation: 24 Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qut:auncer:2008-26
Contact details of provider: Phone: 07 3138 5066
Fax: 07 3138 1500
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Andries De Grip & Maarten Lindeboom & Raymond Montizaan, 2012. "Shattered Dreams: The Effects of Changing the Pension System Late in the Game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(559), pages 1-25, 03.
  2. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Reis, Ricardo & Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Disagreement about Inflation Expectations," Research Papers 1807, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  3. Das, J.W.M. & van Soest, A.H.O., 1996. "A Panel Data Model for Subjective Information on Household Income Growth," Discussion Paper 1996-75, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. 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.
  5. Jonathan A. Parker & Markus K. Brunnermeier, 2004. "Optimal Expectations," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 426, Econometric Society.
  6. Grip Andries de & Lindeboom Maarten & Montizaan Raymond, 2009. "Dreams: The Effects of Changing the Pension System Late in the Game," Research Memorandum 043, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  7. Senik, Claudia, 2006. "Is man doomed to progress?," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0608, CEPREMAP.
  8. Michael Hagerty, 2003. "Was Life Better in the “Good Old Days”? Intertemporal Judgments of Life Satisfaction," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 115-139, June.
  9. Souleles, Nicholas S, 2004. "Expectations, Heterogeneous Forecast Errors, and Consumption: Micro Evidence from the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Surveys," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(1), pages 39-72, February.
  10. Song, Lina & Appleton, Simon, 2008. "Life Satisfaction in Urban China: Components and Determinants," MPRA Paper 8347, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  12. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
  13. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  14. Meng,Xin, 2000. "Labour Market Reform in China," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521771269, November.
  15. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
  16. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  17. Claudia Senik, 2002. "When Information Dominates Comparison. A Panel Data Analysis Using Russian Subjective Data," DELTA Working Papers 2002-02, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  18. Dwayne Benjamin & Loren Brandt & John Giles, 2011. "Did Higher Inequality Impede Growth in Rural China?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1281-1309, December.
  19. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2004. "Subjective Outcomes in Economics," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 2-11, July.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:qut:auncer:2008-26. 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: (School of Economics and Finance)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

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

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.