Wan Chai and Tai Po are the “happiest” districts in Hong Kong with happiness scores at 8.55 and 7.69 respectively. This is significantly higher than the territory-wide Hong Kong average of 7.11, the first “ING LIFE Happiness Survey” reveals.
The survey also asked questions that provide scores in Love, Insight, Fortitude, and Engagement, which have been found to be key determinants of happiness. Tai Po tops Hong Kong in Love, Fortitude and Engagement, while Wan Chai tops Hong Kong in Insight (or wisdom). But overall, Wan Chai residents are happier than those in Tai Po. The survey also finds that residents on Hong Kong Island are happier than those in Kowloon and the New Territories, with happiness scores at 7.33, 7.02 and 7.08 respectively.
Commissioned by ING Life, designed and conducted by the Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) of Lingnan University in June 2011, the first-ever online happiness survey in Hong Kong enjoys the distinction of having the unparalleled sample of a total of 8,523 valid responses. The launch of the “ING LIFE Happiness Survey” was driven by the academic dedication of Lingnan University to assess the population’s happiness and mental health conditions, and by the commitment of ING towards helping people lead a happy and balanced life.
Mr Lennard Yong, Co-Head, ING Insurance & Pensions, Hong Kong & Macau said, “Happiness is the best insurance in life. ING believes that promoting happiness is one of the key objectives of insurance. Thus, the goal of our sponsorship of the survey is to raise public awareness about happy living. This is also the mission and rationale behind our insurance services and product design – to work for the best interests of our clients, and thus help them lead worry-free and happier lives. We are delighted to collaborate with Lingnan University to design the survey and analyse the results, so as to attain more insightful findings for this meaningful initiative.”
Although the online survey did not draw on a random sample of respondents, they tended to be younger, better educated, and with more females than males. The significance of its findings is maintained by the large sample size, which is 10 times that of the sample of previous annual happiness surveys which has been conducted by Lingnan University’s CPPS since 2005.
Females are generally happier than males
Overall, females continue to be happier than males as in all previous surveys. But this premium rapidly declines with age. Beyond 50, single females are not happier than single males at all. For the married, females are noticeably happier than males in the group below 30 years of age, but not much happier than males of the 30-50 and the above 50 groups. Females suffer much more than males if divorced or widowed. The discount in happiness due to a broken marriage declines with age, but remains bigger for women than for men.
In the past, LIFE scores had always been higher for females than for males. According to this online survey, males have caught up with females, and actually score higher in Insight, Fortitude, and Engagement than females. Females continue to show more Love than males, though for those above 50, males have a higher Love score than females.
The older the merrier
LIFE scores generally rise with age, corresponding with earlier results. But Love, Insight and Engagement scores are the lowest for the 21-24 age bracket. The Fortitude score is the lowest for those below 18. This is worthy of attention because it suggests that the younger age groups need to be “toughened up” in order to face the adversities and challenges of life.
Generally, LIFE scores are higher for older respondents, indicating greater happiness with age. Age per se, however, appears to have negative effects on happiness when keeping other factors constant, probably because it often denotes poorer health. The negative effect of age on happiness is stronger for females than for males.
Education reduces happiness
Education does not seem to enhance but reduce happiness. The negative effect of education on happiness is robust and remains significant in alternative tests when keeping other factors constant. Worthy of mention, however, is the fact that university graduates generally show higher LIFE scores than non-university graduates. This suggests that university graduates may face bigger pressures than others.
Economic conditions closely associated with happiness
Another result from this survey is the analysis of financial stress, which is the lowest for private homeowners and highest for private housing tenants. Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) owners are the happiest among households in different types of housing. With LIFE scores all at the top, the self-reported happiness score for HOS owners is 7.53, noticeably higher than that of private homeowners, whose happiness score is only 7.15.
Employment status is also found to be associated with happiness. Those who are unemployed and actively looking for work are less happy than those who have given up looking for work by 0.61 and 0.68 point respectively on a 10 point scale. Students and housewives are the happiest, who scored at 6.97 and 7.48 respectively. We continue to find housewives quite happy, which is different from what some other researchers reported in Hong Kong.
Marriage enhances happiness
Marriage appears to enhance happiness in the baseline regression. However, on closer analysis, the marriage premium (over single) shrinks with age for both males and females, even turning negative after 50 years of age. For those below 30, females enjoy a higher premium of happiness for marriage than males, but the reverse is true for those aged between 30 and 49. Besides, the discount of being divorced or widowed over those who are married for the age group of below 30 is greater for females than males. For those aged 30 or above, conversely, the reduction of happiness is less for females.
The survey results once again validate the LIFE happiness formula of Prof Ho Lok-sang, whose paper using the results collected from earlier surveys, has just been published in this year’s Journal of Socio Economics.
The general public was invited to take the “ING LIFE Happiness Survey” through the online platform at www.inglifescore.com. To mobilise wide participation, daily awards of HK$1,000 were given away to survey participants through a lucky draw. The top ten participants with the most referrals to the survey were entitled to a Referrer Award of HK$10,000 each. The whole campaign has awarded the winners with a total of HK$1 million.
About Centre for Public Policy Studies, Lingnan University
The Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) of Lingnan University was established in 1994 to provide coordination and support for public policy research and exchange of ideas pertinent to the Hong Kong context. Research fellows of the Centre have conducted research and published widely in many areas of public policy, including housing, labour, health, public finance, social security, industrial policy, and financial markets. Their expertise is widely recognised and provides a solid basis for both commissioned and self-initiated policy research.
About ING Life
Since its establishment in 1984, ING Life has always been committed to offering customers a comprehensive range of quality insurance products and services. The company’s extensive portfolio of insurance products – which includes individual life, medical and employee benefits schemes – is tailored to meet customers’ needs throughout the different stages of their lives.
ING Life is a member of the ING Group. The Group is one of the first integrated financial service providers in the world resulting from a full merger of the largest insurance company in the Netherlands with one of the country’s largest banks. Its roots could be traced back to the year 1845 when The Netherlands Insurance Company was established. The Group is active in the fields of banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services in more than 40 countries. With its substantial worldwide experience and over 107,000 employees, ING Group provides a full range of integrated financial services to over 85 million customers globally and has total assets of EUR 1,247 billion*.
* Source: ING Group Annual Report 2010
Enclosed: ING LIFE Happiness Index 2011