Money can't buy happiness, cities survey finds

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai  Daily, August 8, 2011
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Shanghai is a wealthy city and living standards are high but many of its residents are far from happy, according to a national city survey.

Shanghai trails only Hong Kong in living standards while it ranks fourth in its ability to create wealth, the China Institute of City Competitiveness said in Hong Kong. But it falls behind many smaller cities to be only the 97th in a list of "happiest cities" in China.

The criteria for happiness include a sense of belonging, safety and satisfaction of a city's residents, and how much outsiders appreciate the city, the authors of the survey said.

"People's satisfaction toward life was merely average after 30 years' of fast economic growth in China," said Zhang Liancheng, of the Capital University of Economics and Business. "Higher ranks for smaller cities may be due to their small size and the slower pace of living."

The happiest cities in China are Hangzhou, Chengdu and Qingdao, which are recognized by residents and outsiders for their culture, food and scenic attractions, according to the survey.

Chengdu has been in the survey's top 10 list for the past five years.

"Chengdu is a most engaging city and is rich in human care. The city is immersed with positive attitudes," Yuan Tingdong, a researcher with the Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences, told the West China Metropolitan newspaper yesterday.

"Happiness of the city's residents originated from characteristic culture and history, and it has not much to do with money," Yuan said.

Experts at the Shanghai Statistics Bureau said that a disappointment with income levels and cost of living pressures were the main reasons for dissatisfaction in Shanghai, even though average annual disposable personal income of the city ranked highest on the Chinese mainland at 31,838 yuan (US$4,943) last year.

More than 40 percent of Shanghai residents are unsatisfied with their lives as they are having to spend more and more on everyday necessities, according to data compiled by the statistics bureau in April.

A Shanghai resident surnamed Weng said: "Living in Shanghai is really not easy. How can we develop a sense of happiness amid such high prices?"

Meanwhile, some outsiders also have mixed feelings about the city and its acceptance of them.

"There are many opportunities in Shanghai and I'm getting used to the city," said an office worker surnamed Zhong from Anhui Province.

"But I don't feel as if I belong here. The city is so cold and exclusive."

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