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China Proof Money Can’t Buy Happiness

China Proof Money Can’t Buy HappinessChina’s central TV conducted a large survey which concluded that even though the per capita income was nearly 20 times what it was in the late 1980’s, the Chinese have seen a decline in overall life satisfaction.

A paper on the economics of China co-create by three Universities, two in the U.S. and one in China, after having reviewed China’s growth model feel it is “not completely happy.”

They site four reasons:

1. Wealth is a moving target:

While China still has widespread deprivation and poverty, some people are suddenly getting rich and even though their own income hasn’t changed, their comparison to their newly rich neighbors leaves them feeling unhappy and depressed. Even for those who are experiencing a greater level of wealth, they find themselves not satisfied, needing to reach higher levels of achievement.

2. There is a growing economic gap between the city dwellers and their country cousins:

Despite an overall improvement in the China’s health indicators the gap between the urban- rural population has grown larger. This gap has caused a growing resentment between the two cultures.

3. The urban-rural gap widens when it comes to education:

While, because of State run cultural programs, illiteracy has been almost eliminated, but that’s where the equanimity ends. The access to higher education all but eliminated for the rural students, which in the 1970’s made up a majority of the enrollment. Now less than 10 percent of the students are from China’s countryside.

Students of the wealthier Chinese, however, are more and more likely to be receiving their education all or in part abroad.

4. China’s environmental health has also contributed to an increasingly unhappy State:   

Food safety and environmental concerns have reached the top of the charts for the Chinese people.  Recently the pollution index in Beijing exceeded the safety threshold for 19 days out of 31 days and heavy smog is a continuing problem for Beijing. Many Americans can remember back to the 2008 Olympic Games and the effects of smog on a city that was working diligently to negate it effects.  Two of China’s cities are consistently at the top when it comes to ranking of the most polluted cities.

Can Money buy happiness for China?

In the long run it remains to be seen, but for now China’s economic growth may be expanding but its happiness headed in the opposite direction.

You can read the entire study here:


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