Child Indicators Research

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 587–608 | Cite as

Interpersonal Relations and Subjective Well-Being among Preadolescents in China

  • Wanxin LiEmail author
  • Maggie Lau


China’s one-child policy, industrialization and urbanization have implications for children’s interacting with parents, friends, and classmates as well as their well-being. Using a stratified random sample of 1,306 sixth-grade primary school children and their parents in Nanshan district, Shenzhen, this exploratory study measured the interactive structures at home, with friends, and in school in relation to their family backgrounds, subjective well-being, and school performance. Being the only child or having household registration in Shenzhen was associated with more time and financial investments from parents. Girls, only children, or children with household registration in Shenzhen interacted more with friends than their counterparts. Girls or children with siblings engaged more with classmates but household registration did not make a difference. Having controlled for demographic and family backgrounds, parent and classmate relation were both associated positively with children’s levels of satisfaction with their relationships with siblings, parents, and friends as well as subjective well-being. But only classmate relation, besides parent’s educational attainment, was positively associated with school performance.


Interpersonal relation Child well-being Inequality China 



We thank Professor Ray Forrest and Philip Ivanhoe and the two anonymous reviewers for very helpful comments. Financial support from the City University of Hong Kong (Grant #7200154) is gratefully acknowledged. Special thanks go to the Nanshan District Bureau of Education and DONG Jian for assisting the survey work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public and Social AdministrationCity University of Hong KongHong Kong SARPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Tsinghua Graduate School at ShenzhenTsinghua UniversityShenzhenChina
  3. 3.Department of Social SciencesHong Kong Institute of EducationNew TerritoriesHong Kong

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