You Are as Happy as the Government Says You Are
Early this month, the people of Shiqiao, a town in Nanjing’s Pukou District, received a list of sixteen questions and answers:
Item 3: “What was your total family income in 2008? Answer: more than 8,000 yuan.”
Item 16: “If you were to measure happiness on a 100-point scale, how many points would you give yourself? Answer: between 90 and 100.”
Local officials distributed the answer sheet so that residents would be able to give the “correct” responses to a provincial telephone survey designed to measure whether or not the town had achieved its targets for improving the people’s well-being.
After a suspicious telephone outage affected the homes of poorer rural families on the morning of December 20, the day the survey was to take place, many members of the public complained to the Nanjing Morning Post, which sent a reporter to investigate.