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Surprise: survey shows poor people in Guangzhou are miserable

Posted: 12/9/2011 2:21 pm

Shoppers are happy, at least. (Photo from

We like these happiness surveys in China that seem to come out every few months. Usually, they aim to figure out who’s the happiest in China based on city.  The survey that came out this week, however, took a closer look at happiness in relation to income.  And we highly doubt anybody will be surprised by the results.

The Guangzhou Public Opinion Research Centre found that a vast majority (81%) of high-income earners in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are satisfied when it comes to “realizing their personal values”, while only 18% of low-income earners said the same. (And one thought personal values were income agnostic).

What made people unhappy differed in the three cities, however:

Beijingers were the least satisfied with their individual income, public transportation and health care. Residents of Shanghai and Guangzhou said they were the most discontent with health care.

No doubt transportation is a horrific problem in Beijing (did nobody mention air pollution?), but it’s interesting to see that healthcare is a problem for many in Guangzhou.

The survey results aren’t exactly unexpected, but they are still problematic for policymakers: poor people aren’t happy, and there are a lot more poor people in China than rich ones.

That wealth gap and polarization of the high and low income groups will need to be addressed soon.  Wang Wenjun, the Executive Director of the Guangzhou Public Opinion Research Center, said ”The indexes of the survey were designed to study the feelings of individuals. But the need to improve public services is urgent.”

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