Wealth, happiness and happiness inequality in China

Haining Wang, Zhiming Cheng, Russell Smyth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Much literature explores the relationship between income and happiness, but the literature on wealth and happiness is more limited. We use longitudinal data for China to examine the effect of absolute wealth, relative wealth and key components of wealth on happiness and happiness inequality. We find that wealthier people are generally happier and that the rank order of one’s wealth, relative to comparators, matters for happiness. We also find that an increase in the wealth of those to whom we compare ourselves generally lowers happiness, consistent with a jealousy or status effect. Implications of redistributive policies are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWealth(s) and subjective well-being
EditorsGaël Brulé, Christian Suter
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783030055356
ISBN (Print)9783030055349
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameSocial Indicators Research Series
ISSN (Print)1387-6570
ISSN (Electronic)2215-0099


  • Happiness inequality
  • China
  • Comparison
  • Status effect


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