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Economic growth in China has not meant greater life satisfaction for Chinese people: long-term study

 
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05/16/2012 04:12 PM
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Economic growth in China has not meant greater life satisfaction for Chinese people: long-term study
Despite an unprecedented rate of economic growth, Chinese people are less happy overall than they were two decades ago, reveals timely new research from economist Richard Easterlin, one of the founders of the field of "happiness economics" and namesake of the Easterlin Paradox.

In 1990, at the beginning of China's economic transformation, a large majority of Chinese people across age, education, income levels, and regions reported high levels of life satisfaction. Sixty-eight percent of those in the wealthiest income bracket and 65 percent of those in the poorest income bracket reported high levels of satisfaction in 1990.

But life satisfaction has fallen dramatically among the poorest Chinese in the last two decades, according to the study, reflecting a growing unease about emplyment prospects and the dissolution of the social safety net.

Despite happiness parity just twenty years ago, the percentage of the poorest Chinese who say they are satisfied with their lives has fallen more than 23 percentage points. Only 42 percent of Chinese people in the lowest income bracket reported high levels of life satisfaction in 2010, while, at the same time, the percentage of the wealthiest Chinese who said they were satisfied with their lives grew about 3 percentage points, to 71 percent.

The paper, appearing the week of May 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, comes on the heels of the revelation that the Chinese government has not released an official report about wealth distribution in the country in more than a decade.


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[link to phys.org]
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