PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2014, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (10): 1312-1321.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2014.10.003

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Residents' subjective well-being and influencing factors in Beijing

Yunxiao DANG1,2,3(), Wenzhong ZHANG1,2, Jianhui YU1,2(), Li CHEN1,2,4, Dongsheng ZHAN1,2,3   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    4. CAS Research Center on Fictitious Economy & Data Science, Beijing 100190, China
  • Online:2014-10-25 Published:2014-10-25


Residents in urban China are paying increasingly more attention to the quality of life and personal well-being with the improvement of living standards. Improving residents' quality of life is also an important target of urban development. Scholars have conducted research on subjective well-being from the perspective of psychology, sociology, and economics for a long time. However, only few geographic studies in China have addressed this topic. Among these studies, some were concerned with the evaluation method of happy city or happy region by building an evaluation index system, others focused on small scale case studies that examine the influencing factors of individuals' subjective well-being. These studies show that individual social attributes have significant impact on subjective well-being; subjective well-being is also influenced by socioeconomic factors such as crime rate and employment of a city or region. On the other hand, by reviewing the literature we found that geographers in western countries have conducted much research on the measurement, index system, and influencing factors of subjective well-being. Given the Chinese socioeconomic, policy, and institutional context of the past decades, it is important to examine the unique factors that affect subjective well-being of citizens in China, which has not been adequately covered by existing research. Based on the data from a large survey of 5732 participants conducted in 2013 in Beijing, this article develops an indicator system of individual subjective well-being; it also analyzes the subjective well-being of individuals with different social attributes and estimates the impact of relevant factors on subjective well-being with a multivariate linear regression model. Several conclusions are drawn as follows: (1) Individuals with diverse social attributes are significantly different in subjective well-being. The young and the old are happier than the middle-aged group of respondents. Family income has positive impact on subject well-being. However, people with highest family income are not the happiest. Individuals who are highly educated or have a big family are happier. Household heads, pensioners, high-rank managers of companies, and employees of state-owned enterprises are more satisfied with their lives. (2) The majority of the survey participants gave higher scores on life satisfaction but lower scores on happiness. (3) Policy and institutional factors have significant impact on individual's subjective well-being. Respondents with Beijing hukou feel happier and those living in commercial housing are happier than those living in residence provided by workplace or in affordable housing. (4) Increase of working or commuting time leads to lower happiness. (5) Respondents who changed residence once or twice in the last five years feels happier, but this is not the case with those who changed housing more than three times. Similarly, changing job makes people unhappy. (6) Individuals feel happier if they feel good about the living environment, national policy, personal health, and relative income.

Key words: subjective well-being, life satisfaction, happiness, Beijing

CLC Number: 

  • F293.35