At 14:28 on May 19, 2008, people gather in Tian'anmen Square to mourn those killed by the powerful earthquake which struck southwest China on May 12. [China News Service]
Thousands of people gather in Tian'anmen Square to celebrate the opening of the Beijing Olympics, August 8, 2008. [China News Service]
Fewer Chinese people than last year are happy with their lives according to a survey conducted by Xiaokang Magazine and Sina.com. The 2008 happiness index fell 0.5 percent to 79.1 out of a possible 100.
Only 19.21 percent of those surveyed rated themselves happier than last year while 46.42 percent said they were less happy. In 2007, the equivalent scores were 22.7 percent and 39.2 percent.
Happiness affected by big events
According to the poll, only one in five Chinese are happy with their lives overall. Those surveyed cited the stock market slump, natural disasters, soaring house prices and inflation as major causes of unhappiness.
Xing Zhanjun of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said people's feelings of happiness are closely connected with major policy shifts and big events.
But people remain optimistic about the future. 54.8 percent said they would probably get happier, and 15 percent said they were certain of future happiness. Only 18 percent believed they would not be happier in future.
Happiness is related to income
47.22 percent believe a good income will bring them happiness, while 32.39 percent said they are depressed because their income is too low. The survey shows people who earn more tend to be happier, said Xing.
Only 21 percent of respondents are happy with their job, while 43 percent are dissatisfied.
Nearly a third, 31.24 percent, identified the gap between rich and poor as the most important social cause of unhappiness while 24.1 pointed to the failings of the social security system.
A happy family seen as crucial
35.24 percent said a happy family was the most important source of happiness.
44.3 percent said they are satisfied with their family lives, but 23.7 percent said they are unhappy or rather unhappy.
There is a striking difference between the sexes however. Single women are happier than married women, while married men are happier than single men. Experts say this reflects the unequal burdens still being heaped on married women.
Civil servants seen as happiest
50.67 percent of those polled rated civil servants the happiest social group, on grounds of their stable income, better welfare provision and future prospects.
Lawyers are the unhappiest occupational group despite their high incomes. Most lawyers said they felt pressured and did not enjoy their work.
Xiaokang Magazine and Sina.com polled 9,616 people in September 2008.
(China.org.cn by Yang Xi, September 27, 2008)