You are here

Easterlin, "China’s life satisfaction, 1990–2010", 2012

USC research on the impact of economic growth on life satisfaction.
April 6, 2012
Print

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 An initially highly egalitarian distribution of life satisfaction has been replaced by an increasingly unequal one, with decreasing life satisfaction in persons in the bottom third of the income distribution and increasing life satisfaction in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.

Authors: Richard A. Easterlin, Robson Morgan, Malgorzata Switek, and Fei Wang

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Print

Events

April 9, 2020 - 4:00pm

Please join the USC U.S.-China Institute for an online talk with Julia Strauss on her new book, which focuses on the period 1949 to 1954 and compares how the Communist Party in China and the Nationalist Party in Taiwan sought to consolidate their authority and foster economic development.

April 16, 2020 - 4:00pm

The USC U.S.-China institute presents a webcast with award-winning journalist Dexter Robert. His new book explores the reality behind today’s financially-ascendant China and pulls the curtain back on how the Chinese manufacturing machine is actually powered.