Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China

John KNIGHT, Lina SONG, Ramani GUNATILAKA

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

333 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A national household survey for 2002, containing a specially designed module on subjective well-being, is used to estimate pioneering happiness functions in rural China. The variables that are predicted by economic theory to be important for happiness prove to be relatively unimportant. Our analysis suggests that we need to draw on psychology and sociology if we are to understand. Rural China is not a hotbed of dissatisfaction with life, possibly because most people are found to confine their reference groups to the village. Relative income within the village and relative income over time, both in the past and expected in the future, are shown to be important for current happiness, whereas current income is less so. Even amidst the poverty of rural China, attitudes, social comparisons and aspirations influence subjective well-being. The implications of the findings for the future and for policy are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-649
Number of pages15
JournalChina Economic Review
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aspirations
  • China
  • Happiness
  • Poverty
  • Reference groups
  • Relative deprivation
  • Subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

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