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Less advantaged, more optimistic? Subjective well-being among rural, migrant and urban populations in contemporary China

Shu Cai and Jia Wang

China Economic Review, 2018, vol. 52, issue C, 95-110

Abstract: Using a recent national dataset from the China Family Panel Studies, this study provides new evidence regarding the subjective well-being puzzle across multiple indicators among rural, migrant and urban populations in contemporary China. The results show that rural people on average have higher levels of life satisfaction than do migrants or urban residents, despite their disadvantaged economic situations. The decomposition analyses reveal that subjective social status plays a substantial role in accounting for group disparities in life satisfaction, whereas objective social status and experiences of social mobility have less explanatory power. These findings suggest the importance of within-group comparison in shaping individuals' well-being in segregated societies such as China.

Keywords: Migrants; Social mobility; Socioeconomic status; Subjective well-being; Within-group comparison (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I31 J60 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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China Economic Review is currently edited by B.M. Fleisher, K. X. D. Huang, M.E. Lovely, Y. Wen, X. Zhang and X. Zhu

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