Accepted paper:

Towards a happy and unequal society?


Oscar Siu (University of Aberdeen)

Paper short abstract:

In China, there is a gap between the claim of commitment to well-being and equality by policy makers and their practice in political reality. This article discusses the challenges concerning the introduction of well-being to development policy to mitigate the gap between the poor and rich in China.

Paper long abstract:

Despite its economic growth, China maintains a high degree of the gap between the poor and rich. According to a report released by Beijing University, about one-third of the nation's wealth is possessed by merely one percent of households. By contrast, only one percent of the wealth is owned by the poorest 25 percent of grassroots households. The Gini coefficient has already increased to 0.465 in 2016, according to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics. On the other hand, since 2006, the happiness index, subjective well-being, mental health issues and positive psychological language has gained its popularity and become a hot topic in Chinese academia of public policy and development studies, gaining attention of policy makers at all levels. For instance, the "Happiness Index" has been introduced by certain provinces to measure the well-being of the people regarding their subjective experience and objective living conditions. Based on the literature review of the relation between well-being and income in Chinese context, it has been argued that there is a gap between the claim of commitment to well-being and equality by policy makers, and their actual practice of those policies due to various public administrative reasons. Thus, this article seeks to explore the contextual challenges in terms of the introduction of "well-being" in order to mitigate the problem of income inequality in China. It is hoped that this research can contribute to the interdisciplinary dialogue between public administration and positive psychology to mitigate the gap between the poor and rich.

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