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Lingnan University survey reveals that Happiness Index for Hong Kong people remains unchanged and satisfaction with public policy and living environment goes up

04 Dec 2014

Prof Ho Lok-sang, Director of Centre for Public Policy Studies.
Prof Ho Lok-sang, Director of Centre for Public Policy Studies.
Mr Shih Wing-ching. 
Mr Shih Wing-ching. 
 
 

According to the results of the Hong Kong Happiness Index Survey conducted by Lingnan University’s Centre for Public Policy Studies, the Happiness Index for Hong Kong people in 2014 stands at 70.5 (on a scale of 0 to 100), which is the same as last year. The survey outcome is an unexpected one taking into account the current social and political controversies in Hong Kong.


Respondents' degree of satisfaction with quality of public policy rose to 4.34 (on a scale of 0 to 10) from last year’s 4.14. Satisfaction with living environment rose to 5.95 from last year’s 5.75, while that with public healthcare increased to 6.49 from last year’s 6.15. In contrast, their degree of satisfaction with the media fell to 4.76 from last year’s 5.10.
 


As for respondents categorised by household income, the Happiness Index of people with a monthly household income between $10,000 and $20,000 experienced a significant drop of 6.6% from last year to 63.7. This is not only the lowest happiness level among all household income categories but also the lowest level recorded since 2008. Surprisingly, the Happiness Index of people from lower household income categories went up on the contrary. This suggests that pressures faced by middle to low income families continued to grow in recent years. The Happiness Index of retired persons surged significantly to 7.62 from last year’s 7.17.
 


Long working hours and work stress undermine happiness

People with long working hours, in particular those who work for over 60 hours a week, have a lower average Happiness Index level of 6.67, which is noticeably lower than the average Happiness Index of 7.05 for all Hong Kong people. Work pressure, long working hours and financial burdens are still the main contributing factors of Hong Kong people’s unhappiness. The good news is that this year only 33.4% of the respondents have to work over 50 hours a week, showing a drop from last year’s proportion of over 40%. Families with low income levels but less financial burdens are happier than those with high income levels but heavy financial burdens.

Similar to past surveys, female are generally happier than male respondents, and older people also have higher Happiness Index levels. Housewives and retired persons are happier than full time working respondents and students. The Happiness Index of the unemployed showed a significant increase by 0.36 to 6.31 this year, but they remained the least happy group.

Insight shows increasing weight and is the most crucial factor affecting happiness

Since 2008, the annual scheme has surveyed on the factors of Love, Insight, Fortitude and Engagement (LIFE) which are related to the mental quality of respondents. The score on Love this year fell slightly to 8.17 from last year’s 8.5; the score on Insight rose slightly by 0.07 to 7.22; the score on Fortitude decreased by 0.06 to 7.62; and the score on Engagement only showed a marginal increase. The four psychological factors reflect respondents’ “mental capital”. This year’s survey results showed that the weight of Insight as a factor affecting happiness increased, and it is also the most crucial factor, followed by Engagement or purposive living.

Families with monthly household incomes of $40,000 or above the happiest

This year’s survey results indicated that the Happiness Index of families with a monthly household income below $10,000 surged noticeably compared to last year. The Happiness Index of families with a monthly household income between $10,000 and $20,000 experienced the sharpest decline, while those with a monthly household income higher than $20,000 did not show significant changes. Families with a monthly household income of $40,000 or above are the happiest, but their Happiness Index do not show significant difference from those with a monthly household income of $20,000 to $30,000.


Please click here to download the appendix:
Table 1: Happiness Index, Life Satisfaction and Worthy Life Indexes by Gender, 2014
Table 2: LIFE scores by age groups, 2009 to 2014
Table 3: Happiness Index by monthly household income, 2009 to 2014

Please click here to download the full report of "Hong Kong Happiness Index Survey 2014"
 

About the Hong Kong Happiness Index Survey

Designed and conducted annually by the Centre for Public Policy Studies of Lingnan University since 2005, the Hong Kong Happiness Index Survey tracked and measured the level of happiness of Hong Kong residents on a scale of 0 to 100. Since 2008, the Survey also includes questions on Love, Insight, Fortitude and Engagement, which are the key elements of “mental capital” essential to happiness.


The Hong Kong Happiness Index Survey in 2014 marks the tenth consecutive year the survey has been conducted. Telephone interviews with a total of 922 respondents aged above 21 selected by random sampling were conducted from 6 to 11 October 2014, with a response rate of 28.6%. The survey was sponsored by the Shih Wing Ching Foundation and executed with the assistance of the Public Governance Programme of Lingnan University. The Centre for Public Policy Studies would like to express its gratitude for their support.

About the Centre for Public Policy Studies of Lingnan University

The Centre for Public Policy Studies of Lingnan University was established in 1994. Apart from self-initiated studies, the Centre offers support for public policy research among Lingnan’s researchers and conducts commissioned studies on various aspects of public policy.