A study of the impact of environmental surroundings on personal well-being in urban China using a multi-item well-being indicator

Russell Smyth, Ingrid Nielsen, Qingguo Zhai, Tiemin Liu, Yin Liu, Chunyong Tang, Zhihong Wang, Zuxiang Wang, Juyong Zhang

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32 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the relationship between atmospheric and water pollution, traffic congestion, access to parkland and personal well-being using a survey administered across six Chinese cities in 2007. In contrast to existing studies of well-being determinants by economists which typically employ single-item indicators, we use the Personal Well-being Index (PWI). We also employ the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) to measure job satisfaction, which is one of the variables for which we control when examining the relationship between environmental surroundings and personal well-being. Previous research by psychologists has shown the PWI and JSS to have good psychometric properties in western and Chinese samples. A robust finding is that in cities with higher levels of atmospheric pollution and traffic congestion, respondents report lower levels of personal well-being ceteris paribus. Specifically, we find that a one standard deviation increase in suspended particles or sulphur dioxide emissions is roughly equivalent to a 12-13 reduction in average monthly income in the six cities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353 - 375
Number of pages23
JournalPopulation and Environment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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