After two decades of extraordinarily rapid economic growth, people in China aren’t much happier than when they started, suggests a new review of happiness and national income in the world’s largest, most economically accelerated country.
On the whole, China’s wealthy are slightly happier than before, but little appears to have changed among middle-income earners. Among lower income brackets, life satisfaction seems to have dropped precipitously.
These trends are not an argument against capitalism or economic growth — but they do hint at shortcomings in using standard economic metrics as shorthand for well-being.
“There is no evidence of an increase in life satisfaction of the magnitude that might have been expected to result from the fourfold improvement in the level of per capita consumption,” write researchers led by economist Richard Easterlin in their May 15 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper. Continue reading