Social Indicators Research

, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 411–432 | Cite as

Enhancing life satisfaction by government accountability in China

  • Chau-kiu CheungEmail author
  • Kwan-kwok Leung


Finding the rationale for democracy requires not merely a conceptual task but also an empirical study. One rationale is that democracy maximizes people’s happiness by satisfying everyone. A further qualification of this is that democracy minimizes the maximum regret of the disadvantaged. This is compatible with the protection theory of government, which states that the government serves to protect the powerless. These arguments lead to hypotheses that perceived government accountability enhances the life satisfaction of the citizen, especially the powerless one. The hypotheses attain support from the present study, which surveyed 732 inhabitants in Beijing, China. Accordingly, government accountability including reducing corruption and inequality and increasing tolerance and democracy showed significant effects on life satisfaction in all economic, cultural, and political aspects. Furthermore, the effects are stronger on one with lower education and occupational status, and working outside the government. These findings demonstrate the salutary effect of the legitimation policy by enhancing government accountability or democracy in China.

Key words

China democracy accountability life satisfaction protection theory powerlessness social power 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social WorkChinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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