Social Indicators Research

, Volume 119, Issue 2, pp 979–996 | Cite as

Social Support and Psychological Well-Being Under Social Change in Urban and Rural China

  • Huijun Liu
  • Shuzhuo Li
  • Qunying XiaoEmail author
  • M. W. Feldman


The economic reforms of the past two decades have initiated a major social transition in China, characterized by unprecedented social mobility and stratification. Meanwhile, the privatization of health care has increased costs to the consumer. While such changes would logically affect individuals’ psychological well-being, little attention has been paid to this association. Using data from the Chinese General Social Survey (2005), this paper looks at the relationships between social changes and the psychological well-being of individuals in both urban and rural areas, as well as the role of social support in Chinese society. We find that an increasing health-care burden is significantly associated with individuals’ psychological well-being, especially in rural China. Perceived social status, its change over time and its comparison with perceived status of peers, are also significantly correlated with psychological well-being both in rural and urban China. Social support has a protective function for psychological well-being across different samples, and also compensates for the negative association between increasing health-care burden and psychological well-being, but it strengthens relative deprivation during social change on psychological well-being in rural areas.


Psychological well-being Social change Social support Health-care cost China 



The data used in this study were from the CGSS carried out in 2005, sponsored by the China Social Science Foundation. The data was originally collected by Renmin University of China and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. We appreciate the assistance in providing data by the institutes. This work was jointly supported by the 985 Project and the Fundamental Research Funds of the Central Universities of Xi’an Jiaotong University. We would like to acknowledge Karen N. Eggleston of Stanford University for her suggestions during data analysis and review of the manuscript drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Huijun Liu
    • 1
  • Shuzhuo Li
    • 1
  • Qunying Xiao
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. W. Feldman
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Public Policy and AdministrationXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Engineering University of CAPFXi’anChina
  3. 3.Morrison Institute for Population and Resource StudiesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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