Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 1125–1147 | Cite as

When Are People Unhappy? Corruption Experience, Environment, and Life Satisfaction in Mainland China

  • Yiping Wu
  • Jiangnan ZhuEmail author
Research Paper


Previous research on corruption and happiness has typically considered corruption perception as an indicator of government quality; however, the impact of direct personal experience of corruption has been largely overlooked. The current research, using the Asian Barometer Survey I data set on China, fills this gap. We found that the negative effects of personal experience of corruption on happiness are moderated by the general corruption environment, as measured by the corruption–victimization rate of a province. Corruption experience reduces life satisfaction significantly only when the external environment has a low level of corruption. We applied concepts from the broken windows theory to provide theoretical explanations for this phenomenon and used a series of models to test the robustness of our findings.


Happiness Life satisfaction Corruption experience Corruption environment Moderating effect China 



The authors’ special thank goes to editor-in-chief Prof. Antonella Delle Fave, co-editor of Economics Prof. Stephanie Rossouw, and two anonymous reviewers, as well as Jennifer Bussell, Ting Gong, Lianjiang Li, Jie Lu, Xin Sun, Sandra Kit Man Tsang, Dong Zhang, and Huiping Zhang, for their valuable comments and tremendous help. This project is partially funded by the Seed Funding of the University of Hong Kong (Project Code: 201209159003).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public Economics and AdministrationShanghai University of Finance and EconomicsShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Room 933, 9/F, Department of Politics and Public Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centennial CampusThe University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong

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