China Reduced to World’s Happiest Country

Unlike the “Are you happy?” CCTV debacle of last fall, a survey on happiness released last week is unequivocal about China’s contentment. On May 16, People’s Daily published “The People’s Happy : Index of the Development of Family Happiness,” a survey of 9604 adults and 2372 children jointly conducted by the China Population Welfare Foundation, the Renmin University School of Sociology and Population Studies, and the Tsinghua University Research Center for Public Health [zh]. The survey found that 36.3% of participating families are “extremely happy,” 47.5% “relatively happy,” 14.7% “neutral,” 1.1% “relatively unhappy,” and 0.4% “extremely unhappy.”

Happiness Surveys

Click for full view. (Song Song/People’s Daily)

Some netizens complain that the survey does not match up with reality, glossing over many people’s diminishing sense of security, rising real estate prices, and the woes of an unfree, unjust political system. Happy people must be “stupidly happy” (愚蠢的幸福), they conclude. Others point out that happiness is subjective. They are not ready to rule out that some people have happy “Chinese dreams.”

A few Weibo responses to the survey:

朱大可: China has been reduced to the world’s happiest country.


王宝子: No house, no car, no bride; no money for the mortgage, no oil money to burn, couldn’t afford to raise my wife’s children… What a happy state of affairs indeed. We’re all so happy we could cry.


侯宁: I don’t know who their survey respondents were. But one thing is certain: it’s easy for journalists and IT professionals to be unhappy.


Scenes of "happy" Chinese people. (@朱大可)

Scenes of “happy” Chinese people. (@朱大可)

望海在云端: All I hear is grumbling, but all I see from this survey is satisfaction. The hypocrisy, I’m afraid, isn’t just in the happiness itself, it’s also in the minds of those who deceive themselves and others. If you were woken up from your “dream” to take a survey, would you dare to be unhappy?


小乐1102735184: It depends on who we compare ourselves to. North Korea, they’re definitely happier than us. The U.S., not so much.


弐古: Were all of the respondents from the families of officials?!


持之以恒: Just as long as I can watch CCTV every day, I’m happy.


雾 满拦江: I’m going to nitpick: according to the news, the agency’s report shows that more than ⅓ of China’s families feel “extremely happy.” The Renmin and Tsinghua University survey looked at the people in 16 major cities. So the survey results should be read to mean that ⅓ of city residents are exceedingly happy. But the total urban population [of China] is only 50%, so the total happy population can only be ⅙. China has close to 100 million left-behind children.

给新闻挑错:新闻说,机构报告显示目前我国1/3以上家庭感到非常幸福,报告是人大和清华,针对于16座城市居民进行的调查。所以报告的结果,应该是城市居 民有三分之一超幸福。就算城镇居民占总人口50%,幸福人口比例应该是六分之一才对。而目前中国留守流动儿童总规模接近1亿人。

天盛贵金属企划部: 98.5% of Chinese families drink poison milk, eat gutter oil, breathe record-breaking levels of PM2.5, and have PX factories at their doorsteps. Housing and commodity prices basically never go down, while wages and stocks basically never go up. If an old man or old lady falls in the street, no one dares to help them up. Children can schedule a date to be taken to a hotel room by their school headmasters. Workers have to watch out for back-stabbing leaders and colleagues, and students have to make sure their roommates don’t poison them. Truly, we are so very happy.

98.5% 的中国家庭每天喝着毒牛奶,吃着地沟油,呼吸着PM2.5爆表的空气,家门口没多远就是PX化工项目,房价物价基本没有降过,工资股票基本没有涨过,老头 老太走在马路上摔倒了没人敢扶,小孩子指定哪天就被校长带去开房了,上班要防着领导同事背后下黑脚,上学要防着室友偷偷给你下毒,真是太幸福了。

Via CDT Chinese. Translation by Josh Rudolph.


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