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Cover Story Series> Nation
UPDATED: February 9, 2011 NO. 6 FEBRUARY 10, 2011
Happiness Survey

Are Chinese people happy in today's fast-paced, modern society? What are the sources of their happiness? In today's rapidly developing economy, is happiness closely related to wealth or not? A recent happiness survey conducted in China gives some answers.

In January, China Central Television released statistics of its happiness survey. The results show that almost 45 percent of more than 80,000 respondents feel their lives are happy or very happy, while about 11 percent say they are not happy.

The survey, which has been carried out for four consecutive years, includes respondents from all age groups, educational backgrounds and income levels, selected from 104 cities and 300 counties of 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Almost 78 percent of the respondents are urban residents.

People from families with an annual income below 50,000 yuan ($7,580) account for 85 percent of total respondents, showing the survey is focused on the general public.

The results show the relationship between people's happiness and their family income. Generally, the higher the family income is, the happier people are. Thus, lower-income people are not as happy as high-income ones. Although the living conditions of lower-income families have improved continuously in recent years, the number of low-income people in China is still large. Therefore, trying to increase people's incomes is still the primary goal of China's development.

Health, education and age are also factors that affect one's happiness. According to the survey, happiness increases with age. In addition, people with lower educational levels account for a large part of those who are unhappy. Sixty percent of people who are happy also view health as the key factor contributing to their sense of happiness. Health is particularly important for many people since the insurance and health care systems in China are still imperfect.

What influences people's sense of happiness most are income, housing and medical treatment. The survey suggests that food and clothing are no longer a major problem for most people, but many problems still remain.

The result of the survey also confirms that people universally expect, now and in the future, the improvement of medical care, housing and the social welfare system for older people. Unhappy people worry most about employment and old-age security. They expect to have better jobs and a guarantee of their livelihood.

Meanwhile, those who are content with their current lives are mainly concerned with environmental protection and the improvement of social facilities. Since they don't have to worry about matters related to daily life, they have a higher expectation for the environment and for social development.

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