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Happiness comes top of 'comfort' survey
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The environment has come out as the most unsatisfactory aspects of Chinese life for the third year running in the state-run Xiaokang Magazine "comfort" survey.

Respondents gave 56.6 out of 100 points to the environment index, making it the lowest graded of 11 indices.

This year, respondents graded the happiness index highest at 79.6 points.

The monthly magazine, a subsidiary of Qiushi (Seeking Truth) Magazine, which is sponsored by the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC), has compiled the "xiaokang (moderate prosperity) indices" since 2005.

The annual survey covers entertainment, food, public services, housing, health, environment, education, consumption, safety, credit, and happiness.

The general comfort index stood at 64.1 points, slightly up from 62.1 in 2005, and 63 in 2006.

According to the magazine's grading guide, 60 is the minimum satisfaction level.

All the indices this year increased from last year except the credit index, which dropped 0.1 points from 2006, and the environment index, which stayed the same.

The happiness index has stayed the highest and the environment index the lowest for three years.

"The respondents are not satisfied with the environment mainly because of frequent problems of environmental pollution and awareness of the issue," said, Guo Fang, editor of the magazine in charge of the survey.

The State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) has said China's overall environmental situation was still "serious" with frequent pollution accidents affecting the quality of life for many.

Last year, 842 serious pollution accidents were reported, including 482 cases of water pollution and 232 cases of air pollution.

The food index, which covers the quality and cost of food, was second highest 72.7 points, counter to perceptions of discontent due to surging inflation and quality scares.

"The main reason the respondents rated food higher than last year was government efforts to control the food quality and safety," Guo said, adding food quality had been the major concern for respondents in all three years.

The housing index was another surprising rise due to soaring property prices in many cities. It stood at 63.7 points, a bit up from 62.4 in 2006.

"We can see that Chinese are not that satisfied with housing. It was only a few points higher than the minimum level, but they generally have better homes than in previous years and this year many respondents said they were impressed by the government efforts to control rising property prices and had positive expectations," Guo said.

The magazine jointly conducted the survey with an institute under the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) through questionnaires, on-line surveys and interviews. They received 9,000 on-line responses at, a leading Chinese website, and about 33,000 answers to questionnaires and interviews from the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Chengdu and the provincial-level regions of Inner Mongolia, Guizhou and Guangxi.

"Unlike the NBS index on people's living standards, our indices focus more on how people feel about their lives," said Shu Fumin, president and chief editor of the magazine in an earlier interview with the People's Daily.

(Xinhua News Agency December 15, 2007)

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