China's Life Satisfaction, 1990-2010

31 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2013

See all articles by Richard A. Easterlin

Richard A. Easterlin

University of Southern California - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Robson Morgan

University of Southern California

Malgorzata Switek

University of Southern California

Abstract

Despite its unprecedented growth in output per capita in the last two decades, China has essentially followed the life satisfaction trajectory of the central and eastern European transition countries – a U-shaped swing and a nil or declining trend. There is no evidence of an increase in life satisfaction of the magnitude that might have been expected to result from the fourfold improvement in the level of per capita consumption that has occurred. As in the European countries, in China the trend and U-shaped pattern appear to be related to a pronounced rise in unemployment followed by a mild decline, and an accompanying dissolution of the social safety net along with growing income inequality. The burden of worsening life satisfaction in China has fallen chiefly on the lowest socioeconomic groups. An initially highly egalitarian distribution of life satisfaction has been replaced by an increasingly unequal one, with decreasing life satisfaction in persons in the bottom third of the income distribution and increasing life satisfaction in those in the top third.

Keywords: economic growth, Easterlin Paradox, happiness, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, transition countries, China

JEL Classification: I31, I38, D60, 053, P36

Suggested Citation

Easterlin, Richard A. and Morgan, Robson and Switek, Malgorzata, China's Life Satisfaction, 1990-2010. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7196. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2214270

Richard A. Easterlin (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Department of Economics ( email )

3620 South Vermont Ave. Kaprielian (KAP) Hall, 300
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Robson Morgan

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Malgorzata Switek

University of Southern California ( email )

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