Having more money in your pocket doesn't necessarily make you
A happiness index of Beijing residents believed to be China's
first such poll has revealed that despite income contributing to
happiness, people in the middle-income band are among the city's
According to the index, released by the city's statistics
bureau, 83 per cent of those who earn around 6,000 yuan (US$750)
per month are happy with their lives.
Meanwhile only 70 per cent of those earning between 10,000
(US$1,250) and 15,000 (US$1,875) yuan per month are happy the same
as those who earn between 1,000 and 1,500 yuan per month.
According to bureau spokeswoman Yu Xiuqin, compared with the
middle-income group, people who earn larger sums feel under
pressure to keep up with their well-off friends, and tend to get
anxious about their ambitions.
Aside from the middle-income bubble the overall trend of the
index is that happiness grows with income, said Yu.
The average per capita income for residents in Beijing has
frozen at 1,669 yuan (US$209) per month, yet the city's cost of
living ranks as one of the highest in the country, according to the
The happiness index is the first of its kind after the National
Bureau of Statistics was called on to introduce a rating of
people's satisfaction levels, as part of the ongoing effort to
evaluate social and economic development.
Starting from July, the bureau carried out phone interviews with
people aged between 18 and 70 in Beijing's 18 districts and
counties. They collected results from a total of 7,118
Considered in the index are factors including income, medical
care, social order and equality, the sense of family and other
interpersonal relationships, professional satisfaction, and the
feeling of belonging.
The survey found that income level was the most important
individual factor in determining people's sense of happiness,
followed by social standing.
The survey shows that 31.6 per cent of people are 90 per cent
happy with their lives. Only 7.2 per cent are less than 50 per cent
satisfied. In between are those who are 60 to 90 per cent
The index also shows that among all age groups, the middle-aged
rank as the least happy shouldering the heaviest sense of social
And that those living in the suburbs are happier than people who
dwell in downtown Beijing.
Though citizens may have different opinions about what happiness
is, many citizens welcome the index.
"This is different from previous official indexes which were
cold and impersonal this index touches the hearts of individual
citizens," Chen Liangwen, an economic researcher with Peking
University, told China Daily.
Chen also said that while other indexes, such as gross domestic
product (GDP), measured technically calculable factors, the
psychological state of satisfaction was so subjective it could
hardly be represented in figures.
According to the bureau spokeswoman, the index will be released
annually, every September, helping to draw the government's
attention to its shortcomings, and the effects of its policies.
Yu hinted that the municipal government would consider
incorporating the index in its evaluation of officials' work.
(China Daily October 18, 2006)