Who are the happiest citizens in China? Not us — although we’re close to the top. At least that’s the conclusion of a recent survey (story in Chinese) conducted in 31 China cities by Oriental Outlook and University of Chicago professor Xi Kaiyuan from December 2006 to January 2007. Xi, also known by the English name Christopher K. Hsee, is a professor of Hedonomics (related to “hedonics“), the “science of happiness”, which operates at the crossroads of psychology (quantitative measures of subjective well-being) and economics (aspects of consumer behavior).
The survey was conducted through random phone interviews in four municipal cities, 22 provincial cities and five autonomous regions to obtain 7,000 samples (what kind of person agrees to a random phone interview?). One of its main conclusions was that Nanjing, Hangzhou and Shanghai are the three happiest cities in China (thus Shanghai retains its title as the happiest major city in China). The survey questions focused on human relationships, transportation, opportunities, convenience, entertainment, environment, public security, civilization and city development in recent years.
The survey revealed that public safety is one of the factors relating to overall happiness, as is economic opportunity, where surprisingly Lhasa ranked first. Shanghai was tops in terms of convenience and urban architecture. And while Lhasa, Nanning and Changchun were the best in terms of human relationships, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou couldn’t even squeeze into the first 20. The report also shows that the higher the level of education, the lower the hedonomics rate. Other findings: Females are generally happier than males (especially in Harbin, if you remember), the longer you live in a city the happier you feel about living in there, and of course citizens who own apartments are happier than those who don’t. The happiest people of all? Those with the shortest commutes between home and office.
Photo by Graeme Hodges.