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Money Does Not Buy Happiness: Poll

The Chinese people may be far wealthier than they were a decade ago, but they are not very satisfied with their quality of life, a survey showed.

The Gallup Organization's study covering 15,000 adults across every province and autonomous administration unit in China showed average household incomes nearly 2.5 times greater than those reported in 1994.
"The change in the living standards of China's people over the last decade is nothing short of astonishing -- surely the most dramatic transformation ever witnessed by more than a fifth of mankind over such a brief period," according to a Gallup Poll Tuesday Briefing analysis.     
It said the bulk of this dramatic income growth occurred among China's urban residents, who on average are three times as affluent as their rural counterparts.     
But even rural incomes, which have stagnated in recent years, are nearly double what they were a little over a decade ago, Gallup's fourth comprehensive nationwide study, dating back to 1994, indicated.     
In the 1994 survey, only 40 percent of Chinese households had a color television set, just one in four owned a refrigerator, one in 10 had a landline telephone and only three percent owned a mobile phone.     
The latest poll indicated that 82 percent of China's roughly 400 million households owned color television sets, 63 percent had landline phones and nearly half owned at least one mobile phone.     
Even more remarkable is that at least half of all Chinese households now own a video compact disc (VCD) player -- double the percentage that owned a refrigerator in 1994.     
Are the Chinese more satisfied with their quality of life now? The data are far more ambiguous there, according to Gallup.     
The largest percentage of those surveyed expressed moderate, rather than strong, satisfaction -- 51 percent said they were "somewhat satisfied," while 12 percent said they were "very satisfied."     
Gallup said "despite impressive growth in average household income, the ratio of Chinese expressing satisfaction to those showing dissatisfaction has actually eroded somewhat over time."     
China, the world's most populous nation, has been growing at a blistering average annual rate of 9.7 percent from 1990 to 2003, figures from the International Monetary Fund show.

(China Daily January 12, 2005)

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