Is there a bright side to the China Syndrome? Rising export opportunities and life satisfaction in China
SpeakerLaura Hering (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
LocationLounge/kitchen E Building floor E1 Rotterdam
Date and time
September 15, 2022
12:00 - 13:00
The rise of Chinese exports has been identified as a source of harmful disruptions in importing countries. It contributed to job destruction, labor market polarization, and political tensions. In China, the internationalization of the economy has bolstered the economic development and increased incomes, but it has also shaken up social structures and work environments. This paper explores the overall effect of exports on individual welfare in China. We use a longitudinal survey on the perceived life satisfaction for about 45,000 Chinese individuals that we match with a (shift-share) measure of export opportunities in their locality. We show that perceived life satisfaction rises significantly in prefectures that experienced higher export opportunities despite a negative effect on self-reported health. The positive well-being gains go beyond a mere income effect. We further show that these non-monetary gains transit via the local labor market: the export-related well-being gains that we measure exist only for working-age individuals (in particular men and low-skilled workers), are concentrated among households with an agricultural household registration and are found only when the satisfaction indicator focuses on work but not on family.