Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Income Inequality and Subjective Wellbeing: Panel Data Evidence from China

Zhang, Quanda and Awaworyi Churchill, Sefa (2019): Income Inequality and Subjective Wellbeing: Panel Data Evidence from China. Forthcoming in: China Economic Review

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Abstract

Using four waves of longitudinal data from the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), we examine the effects of income inequality on subjective wellbeing (SWB). We take a dual approach in measuring income inequality, and thus, we examine the effects of inequality using province-level Gini coefficient as well as between-group inequality or identity-related inequality defined as the income gap between migrants without urban household registration identity (hukou) and urban residents. We find negative effects of both province-level income inequality and between-group income inequality on SWB, measured by life satisfaction. Our results also show that the effects of income inequality on SWB is stronger for rural hukou residents compared to urban hukou residents. These findings are robust to alternative ways of measuring SWB and income inequality. In addition, we find evidence suggesting that neighbourhood trust is an important channel through which income inequality operates to reduce SWB. We suggest policies that promote trust in communities with high inequality with a view of addressing the negative effects of inequality on SWB.

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