A city of happy women
Contrary to popular belief, age and relationship status do not actually have much bearing on a woman’s happiness. Or at least that seems to be the case in Shanghai.
In the latest survey conducted by the Shanghai Women’s Federation, 85.7 percent of respondents said that they felt “very happy” or “quite happy”. Single women and those who have been married for more than 20 years rank among the happiest. Women who were married for less than three years were the unhappiest.
The results of the survey, which polled 1,004 women who reside permanently in Shanghai, was published by the government body on Oct 27. The level of contentment and satisfaction was based on five factors: physical and mental health, family relationship, professional and academic development, material wealth and social environment.
Yu Yuhua, sociology professor at East China Normal University and the leading conductor of the survey, noted that while income and material wealth don’t play a decisive role in determining one’s happiness, being financially independent is generally considered the fundamental factor.
The survey also showed that education levels have little effect on one’s happiness. In fact, there is an inverse relationship between the two. Experts explained this phenomenon, saying that higher levels of education lead to inflated expectations which often end up unfulfilled.
Nationwide, Shanghai and Beijing were jointly ranked seventh among 29 provinces and cities in terms of residents’ happiness levels, according to the National Happiness Report 2014, conducted by the research institution of Southwestern University of Finance and Economics.
The findings took many by surprise as it was widely believed that the hectic lifestyles and high cost of living at the two most populated metropolises in China should equate to unhappiness.
One of the key targets in the Shanghai municipal government’s 12th five-year plan (2011-15) was to “effectively improve the happiness index of female residents in Shanghai”. It was the first time that women’s welfare was taken into consideration by the government. The authorities had aimed to do so via legislations stating that men and women must share family responsibilities such as the upbringing of their children.
This new approach was likely a result of the findings from an earlier report released by the Federation in 2012, which showed that housework had been a major factor in causing a married career woman to experience burnout. Over 53 percent of the married women polled said they had shouldered “the majority” or “all” of housework duties.