'Fewer satisfied with their lives in 2012'

Updated: 2013-01-08 07:53

By Xu Wei (China Daily)

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Fewer people were satisfied with their quality of life in 2012 amid rising living costs and changing social values, according to a report compiled by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The report found 44.7 percent of people polled nationwide were satisfied in 2012, a decrease of 2.3 percentage points from the previous year.

Even among those who said they were satisfied with their lives, their satisfaction index decreased from 3.46 to 3.41 on a scale of zero to five points.

According to the report, 12.3 percent of those surveyed said they were dissatisfied.

The report, which was released on Monday, was based on data and surveys provided by the livelihood index research group under the National People's Congress and filed by researchers from the academy.

Wang Junxiu, a sociologist at the academy and leading author of the report, said price rises and growing employment pressures were some of the biggest factors contributing to the increasingly gloomy mood.

"The survey was conducted while prices were rising, and this definitely has a role to play in the decline in the satisfaction index," he said.

But he added that the decline was also related to psychological factors.

"If someone just had a pay raise, the satisfaction that accompanied it may disappear very quickly. But the inner demand for an improved quality of life is constantly on the rise," he said.

The decline in the satisfaction index was seen among people in a wide range of professions, ranging from those in leading positions at State-owned enterprises and government bodies to farmers and workers in the service sector.

The report also found higher levels of satisfaction among rural residents and residents in western regions of China. People who live in rented accommodations are generally less happy than those who own their own homes.

Another report conducted by researchers from the academy showed that people had a lower level of social trust than in previous years.

The study divided social trust into two categories: people's trust in society and their trust in personal connections.

The report, which examined the trust levels of residents of seven cities, found people had a very low level of trust in businesses, scoring 51.8 points out of 100.

It revealed that the catering, tourism, pharmaceutical and real estate sectors were among the least trusted.

The report also found a lower level of trust in interpersonal relationships. Only 20 to 30 percent of the respondents said that they would trust strangers, while distrust has also increased among different social groups.

"There is distrust between the authorities, police and residents, doctors and patients, and customers and businesspeople," the report said.

The study also found that trust in personal relationships increasingly outweighed trust in society among Chinese people.

"In modern society, people's trust in society generally outweighs trust in personal connections. However, in China, people seem to show more faith in their own personal connections," said Yang Yiyin, a social psychology researcher from the academy.

"The government now faces a difficult task in restoring that trust. It can only be restored through stronger punishment of dishonest behavior and the cultivation of civic awareness," she said.

Cheng Yingqi contributed to this story.


(China Daily 01/08/2013 page3)