Social Change and Psychological Well-Being in Urban and Rural China
22 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2011
Date Written: August 24, 2011
The economic reforms of the past two decades have initiated a major social transition in China, characterized by unprecedented social mobility and stratification. Meanwhile, the privatization of health care has increased costs to the consumer and further changed familial and social norms. While such changes would logically affect individuals’ psychological well-being, little attention has been paid to their impact in this regard. Using data from the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS 2005), this paper looks at the relationships between social change, social support and the psychological well-being of individuals in both urban and rural areas, as well as the role of marital status in Chinese society. We find that an increasing health care burden is significantly reducing individuals’ psychological well-being. Perceptions of social status, especially as it changes over time and when compared against peers, also have an effect. Social support has protective function for psychological well-being, and also compensates for the negative effect of increasing health-care burden and relative deprivation during social change on psychological well-being. Marital status is also significantly correlated with psychological well-being, and moderates the relationships between social change, other social support and psychological health, especially in rural cases.
Keywords: social transition, health care expenditure, social comparison, psychological well-being, marriage
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