Happiness in a Thatched Hut.

Via Leigha Butler
on Jul 2, 2010
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When Poor = Happy.

Researchers find that many rural Chinese are just as happy as their rich, urban comrades.

Preliminary fieldwork shows that rural Chinese are no less satisfied with life than their urban counterparts, despite the vast socio-economic divide. In a research paper entitled ‘“Peace in a Thatched Hut—that is Happiness’: Subjective Wellbeing Among Peasants in Rural China,” psychologists find that rural Chinese are at least as fulfilled as city-dwellers across dozens of well-being indicators. In several key areas, the findings actually suggest that rural Chinese could be more happy than urbanites in the following areas:

~Standard of living

~Personal relationships

~Personal safety


thatched huts

But Before We Get Too Pumped About Peasant Life

The study points out that Chinese peasants are experiencing a time of relative ease as the rural economy has improved over the last decade. It’s important to note that all of the respondents reported having their basic needs met. The caveat being: There is a real and palpable link between despondency and an inability to provide for one’s food and shelter.

thatched hut

As Good As it Gets

The group of 277 residents did report being less pleased than city-dwellers in three areas, the only statistically-significant category being “life achievement”:

~Life achievement

~Feeling part of the community

~Personal safety

american gothic

What the Researchers Want You to Know

The findings cast a critical light on Western assumptions about the link between income and well-being. “It is important to bear in mind,” the researchers write, ”that the Western notion that money buys happiness may not necessarily generalize to East Asian countries.” Individualist cultures of the West may value money, but collectivist cultures rely on other factors to determine well-being, as long as basic needs are met.


About Leigha Butler

Leigha Butler writes about yoga, happiness and sustainability here and at Willows Wept Review. She teaches Vinyasa yoga and English lit in New York's Hudson Valley and holds a master's in Literature & Environment from the University of Nevada, Reno. Find her on Twitter, or via email.


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