Subjective well-being in China, 2005–2010: The role of relative income, gender, and location

Asadullah, M. Niaz and Xiao, Saizi and Yeoh, Emile Kok Kheng (2018) Subjective well-being in China, 2005–2010: The role of relative income, gender, and location. China Economic Review, 48. pp. 83-101. ISSN 1043-951X, DOI

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We use data from two rounds of the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) to study the determinants of subjective well-being in China over the period 2005–2010 during which self-reported happiness scores show an increase across all income groups. Ordered probit regression analysis of well-being reveals large influence of gender, rural residency, and household income. After controlling for demographic attributes, health status, unemployment status, number of children, agricultural hukou (household registration identity) and educational attainment, household assets, the influence of past and future income, and province dummies, we find that women, urban residents, and people with higher income are happier in China. More schooling, better health, and being employed are positively and significantly correlated with well-being. Sub-sample analysis reveals that the rich only care about relative income whereas the effect of absolute income dominates in case of the poorer section. The influence of absolute income is larger among women compared to men and in turn explains why women, despite being poorer, are happier in China, conditional on socioeconomic differences. On the other hand, rural residents are poorer than urban residents so that conditional on having the same income, there is no rural–urban happiness gap. Our results suggest that while further decline in poverty will enhance well-being in China, policies that reduce rural–urban and gender inequalities are also likely to boost well-being.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Happiness; Inequality; Poverty; Unemployment; Well-being
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Divisions: Faculty of Economics & Administration
Depositing User: Ms. Juhaida Abd Rahim
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2019 07:50
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2019 01:13

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