July 22, 2008

Money does buy happiness or at least satisfaction. Chinese 83% satisfied with direction of China.

From the International Herald Tribune, eighty-six percent of the Chinese surveyed said they were content with the country's direction, up from 48 percent in 2002 and a full 25 percentage points higher than the next highest country, Australia. And 82 percent of Chinese were satisfied with their national economy, up from 52 percent.

China has had double digit economic growth for over five years. It seems that having a fast pace of recent (5-10 years) of personal and national economic gains are the keys to broad based satisfaction (aka happiness).

The biggest concern of Chinese - expressed by 96 percent - was rising prices. Corruption and environmental degradation also worried majorities of Chinese.

Only 23 percent of Americans surveyed said they were satisfied with the country's direction and only 20 percent said the U.S. economy was good.

Russians were the third most-satisfied people with their country's direction, at 54 percent.

43% of Iraqis are happy with the direction of their country

Except for Spain, which placed fourth at 50 percent, the peoples of major European countries were far from content. Only about 3 in 10 British, French and Germans expressed satisfaction.

Sixty-five percent of the Chinese said the government was doing a good job on the issues most important to them, though support was somewhat lower in the western and central provinces, which have not enjoyed the rapid growth of eastern regions.

The poll was based on 3,212 face-to-face interviews that were conducted in 16 dialects from March 28 to April 19 across China, though disproportionately in urban areas. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus two percentage points. Sample sizes and error margins in the other countries varied.


P said...

We must have in mind that China is not a democracy and that most Chinese people are afraid of speaking their true meaning because if they do they most probably die.

Cosmo said...

I've spent a great deal of time in China over the past decade and a half. Perhaps it's not only improved economic conditions, but a state-controlled media and entertainment apparatus which uniformly celebrates the nation, its people and its culture -- albeit, often to the point quite obvious propaganda and jingoism.

Conversely, media and entertainment industries in the West seem devoted to sensationalizing its shortcomings, aggravating grievances and nurturing discontent.

Also, with regard to respondents to any poll in China, it is useful to keep two things in mind. First, there is far more societal cohesion in China, especially when it comes to what is presented to others, especially foreigners -- which explains the nation's severe sensitivity about its image.

Second, unlike the mythical Bush-Cheney police state, there can still be consequences (although less likely today than in the past) in China for being critical of the government, or even being accused of doing so.

bw said...

P: your theory does not hold up. The 2002 poll had 48% satisfaction. So the chinese government of 2002 was more lenient than it is now ?

China's government does not care or need to control the small stuff.

There are local village and local party elections

Just like the Federal government in the US is completely different from city or town councils.

China has control of media and journalists but does not squelch opinions that will not lead to anything.

kurt said...

The Chinese are happier these days because the Beijing government, despite its reputation in the West, does not much regulate the two real freedoms that people care about. The freedom to make as much money as you want and the freedom to get laid and generally have a good time. Indeed, the Beijing government probably encourages these freedoms more than the U.S. Every hotel that I have stayed at provides condoms in the room. Can you imagine the hoo-haa if a hotel in the U.S. did the same, especially in the "South"?

The Beijing government does maintain a tight grip on political expression. They will continue to do this as long as they can get away with it. However, as people have personal freedom and an ever rising economic freedoms and opportunities, they will largely be happy with the current state of affairs. There may or may not be problems when China hits a recession.

This is long term sustainable, by the way. Singapore is essentially a one-party city-state and has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

I thinks its funny to listen to Americans berate China for not having freedom. Both corporate and personal income taxes are lower in China than in the U.S. There is less regulation as well. Throw in the fact that they don't give a s**t about your sex life (unlike many anal-retentive Americans) and I would plausibly argue that they may even have more freedom than we do here.

I lived in Japan and Taiwan for 10 years. I go to China on business. The thing I like most about Asia is the complete lack of PC liberal-left people and christian right people. This is probably the best reason of all to like China and the rest of East Asia.