Network Size, Social Support and Happiness in Later Life: A Comparative Study of Beijing and Hong Kong

Abstract

This study investigates how happiness of elderly Chinese is related to their social support networks, based on survey data collected in 2000 from Beijing and Hong Kong. These two Chinese cities share a common cultural heritage but differ in social-economic structure. It was found that in both cities, income is more significant than gender and education in determining happiness, but it is less important than personal network size and particularly perceived social support. More importantly, findings from the two cites consistently lend support to the thesis that older persons with a larger network are happier and that social support plays a mediating role. Controlling for social-demographic factors does not change this pattern of relationships. There are, however, differences between the two cities. Beijing’s elderly were found to be happier and have larger social networks than Hong Kong’s elderly. Also, our explanatory models consistently account for less variance in the happiness of older persons in Beijing. These findings are probably due to the differences between socialist Beijing and capitalist Hong Kong in degrees of modernization and urbanization and in social organization of work and community life.

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Chan, Y.K., Lee, R.P.L. Network Size, Social Support and Happiness in Later Life: A Comparative Study of Beijing and Hong Kong. J Happiness Stud 7, 87–112 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-005-1915-1

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Keywords

  • happiness
  • later life
  • network size
  • perceived support
  • social network