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Social Indicators Research

, Volume 132, Issue 1, pp 489–516 | Cite as

Internet Use and Subjective Well-Being in China

  • Peng NieEmail author
  • Alfonso Sousa-Poza
  • Galit Nimrod
Article

Abstract

Using data from the 2010 China Family Panel Studies, we analyze the association between Internet use and various measures of subjective well-being (SWB) in a sample of 16- to 60-year-old Chinese. Our analysis shows that although intensive Internet use is significantly associated with lower levels of SWB, we hardly observe any associations when the focus is on participation in specific online activities. Nevertheless, SWB depends on the reasons for using the Internet and the extent to which individuals feel that their Internet use is displacing other activities. Our results suggest that, contrary to previous findings, differences in beneficial outcomes (the third level digital divide) do not necessarily arise from individuals’ actual Internet use (the second level digital divide) but rather may result from their subjective perceptions of such usage. Our findings also point to a possible cultural factor that puts Chinese Internet users at psychological risk.

Keywords

China Digital divides Depression Happiness Internet use Life satisfaction 

JEL Classification

I10 D10 J10 Q53 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are very thankful to the Institute of Social Science Survey at Peking University for providing the CFPS data used in this study. We also gratefully acknowledge the grant support provided under the project, “Tuscany: a Global Laboratory for quality of Life”, promoted by Tuscany Region, Toscana Promozione and E.di C.s.p.a.-Polo Lionello Bonfanti, Prot. 2014/3014/8.4.1/30, Decreto n. 135 del 28/04/2014 and Decreto n. 325 del 15/12/2014. This present analysis is also an output of a scholarship from the Food Security Center at the University of Hohenheim, which is part of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) program “Exceed” and is supported by DAAD and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). This paper was presented at the International Conference on Quality of Life in Tuscany: Theory and Policy in Burchio FI. We would like to thank the participants for valuable comments as well as Francesco Sarracino, Stefano Bartolini and three anonymous referees for valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Health Care and Public ManagementUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Department of Communication Studies, The Center for Multidisciplinary Research in AgingBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeershebaIsrael

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