Social Indicators Research

, Volume 117, Issue 3, pp 689–703 | Cite as

Probing Folk Happiness in Taiwan

  • Po-Keung IpEmail author
  • Yuet-Wah Cheung


This paper examines Taiwan’s folk happiness, which means the subjective well-being of the common people. Subjective well-being of people refers to the judgments people make about their life satisfaction or happiness. Such judgments may include their satisfaction of life as a whole (global life satisfaction) or of specific aspects of life (domain satisfaction). Based on survey data from a large sample, the life satisfaction of people is investigated in two aspects—people’s personal life and their perceived conditions of living in Taiwan, respectively presented as personal well-being and national well-being or societal well-being. The meanings of the well-being findings are interpreted against the socio-political environment of Taiwan. The paper also examines the socio-demographic aspects, including gender, age, marital status, education, income, religion of the folk happiness of Taiwan. It is found that people in Taiwan are moderately happy.


Subjective well-being Folk happiness Taiwan Greater China 



The authors thank the helpful comments of the two anonymous reviewers. The data are drawn from a survey which is a part of a research project (Project 965908) funded by the “Project of Promoting Academic Excellence and Developing World Class Research Centers” of the National Central University, Taiwan. The works of Alex Michalos and Robert Cummins’ have been a continued source of inspiration. We are grateful to Professor Cummins for allowing us to use the well-being questionnaire of the Australian Center on the Quality of Life as a reference for designing part of the questionnaire for this survey.


  1. Andrews, F. M., & Withey, S. B. (1976). Social indicators of well-being. New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Biswas-Diener, R., Vitterso, J., & Diener, E. (2005). Most people are pretty happy, but there is cultural variation: The Inughuit, the Amish, and the Maasai. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 205–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bradburn, N. (1969). The structure of psychological Well-being. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  4. Brockmann, H., Delhey, J., Welzel, C., & Yuan, H. (2009). The China puzzle: Falling happiness in a rising economy. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 387–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chan, Y., & Lee, R. (2006). Network size, social support and happiness in later life: A comparative study of Beijing and Hong Kong. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 87–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen, C. (2001). Aging and life satisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 54, 57–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen, Z., & Davey, G. (2008a). Happiness and subjective wellbeing in Mainland China. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 589–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen, Z., & Davey, G. (2008b). Normative life satisfaction in Chinese societies. Social Indicators Research, 92, 557–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cheung, C. K., & Leung, K. K. (2004). Forming life satisfaction among different social groups during the modernization of China. Journal of Happiness Studies, 5, 23–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheung, C.-K., & Leung, K.-. K. (2008). Ways by which comparable income affects life satisfaction in Hong Kong. Social Indicators Research, 87, 169–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient Alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychometrika, 16, 297–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cummins, R. A. (2000). Objective and subjective quality of life: An interactive model. Social Indicator Research, 51, 55–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cummins, R. (2003). Normative life satisfaction: Measurement issues and a homeostatic model. Social Indicators Research, 64, 225–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Diener, E. (2000). Subjective well-being. The Science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. American Psychologist, 55, 34–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diener, E., & Diener, C. (1996). Most people are happy. Psychological Science, 7(3), 181–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Inoguchi, T., & Shin, D. C. (2009). The quality of life in Confucian Asia: From physical welfare to subjective well-being. Social Indicators Research, 92, 183–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ip, P. K. (Ed.) (2009). Well-being of nations—A cross-cultural perspective. Social Indicator Research, 91, March. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Ip, P. K. (2011). Concepts of Chinese folk happiness. Social Indicator Research, 104, 459–474.Google Scholar
  19. Lee, R. P. L., Cheung, T. S., & Cheung, Y. W. (1979). Materal and non-materal conditions and life satisfaction or urban residents in Hong Kong. In T. B. Lin, R. P. Lee, & U. E. Simons (Eds.), Hong Kong: Economic, social and political studies in development (pp. 83–94). White Plains, New York: M.E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  20. Liao, P. S. (2009). Parallels between objective indicators and subjective perceptions of quality of life: A study of metropolitan and county areas in Taiwan. Social Indicator Research, 91, 99–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Liao, P., Fu, Y., & Yi, C. (2005). Perceived quality of life in Taiwan and Hong Kong: An intra-culture comparison. Journal of Happiness Studies, 6, 43–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Schwarz, N., & Strack, F. (1999). Reports of subjective well-being: Judgmental process and their methodological implications. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 61–84). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  23. Shek, D. T. L. (2010). Introduction: Quality of life of Chinese people in a changing world. Social Indicators Research, 95, 357–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shek, D. T. L., Chan, Y. K., & Lee, P. S. N. (Eds.). (2005). Quality of life research in Chinese, Western and global contexts. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  25. Shin, D. C., & Inoguchi, T. (2009). Avowed happiness in Confucian Asia: Ascertaining its distribution, patterns, and sources. Social Indicators Research, 92, 405–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Shu, X., & Zhu, Y. (2009). The quality of life in China. Social Indicators Research, 92, 191–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sing, M. (2009). The quality of life in Hong Kong. Social Indicators Research, 92, 295–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Smyth, R., Nielsen, I., & Zhai, Q. (2010). Personal well-being in urban China. Social Indicators Research, 95, 231–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tsou, M. W., & Liu, J. T. (2001). Happiness and domain satisfaction in Taiwan. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2, 269–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wan, P. S. (1997). Subjective well-being: Now and then. In S. K. Lau, M. K. Lee, P. S. Wan, & S. L. Wong (Eds.), Indicators of Social Development: Hong Kong 1995 (pp. 49–81). Hsong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  31. Wan, P. S., Law, K. W. K., & Law and Wong, T. K. Y. (2008). Subjective well-being, 1997–2006. In S. W. Leung, P. S. Wan, & S. L. Wong (Eds.), Indicators of Social Development Hong Kong 2006 (pp. 209–244). Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Asia Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  32. Wong, C., & Tang, C. (2003). Personality, psychosocial variables, and life satisfaction of Chinese gay men in Hong Kong. Journal of Happiness Studies, 4, 285–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Xing, Z. J., & Liao, H. (2008). Subjective well-being of Chinese citizens: A report on well-being index from six provincial capitals. Beijing: Social Sciences Documentation Publisher. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  34. Yao, G., Cheng, Y.-P., & Cheng, C.-P. (2009). The quality of life in Taiwan. Social Indicators Research, 92, 377–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhou, C. C. (2008). (Ed.) Subjective quality of life: Indicators and evaluation. Beijing: Social Sciences Documentation Publisher (in Chinese).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Institute of PhilosophyNational Central UniversityZhongliTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of SociologyChinese University of Hong KongNew TerritoriesHong Kong

Personalised recommendations