Is There a Bright Side to the China Syndrome? Rising Export Opportunities and Life Satisfaction in China

Matthieu Crozet, Laura Hering, Sandra Poncet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Export growth affects individuals through numerous and contradictory channels. In China, the development of exports has promoted economic development and income growth, but it has also disrupted social structures and work environments. This paper explores the overall effect of exports on perceived well-being by combining responses from a large longitudinal survey covering over 45,000 Chinese with a shift-share measure of local export opportunities. Results show that individuals' perceived life satisfaction increases significantly in prefectures that benefited from greater export opportunities, despite a negative effect on self-reported health. The positive well-being gains go beyond a simple income effect. These non-monetary gains are related to the individuals' professional life: export-related well-being gains are stronger for working-age individuals (especially men and low-skilled workers), are largest for workers in the manufacturing sector (which produces the vast majority of China's exports), and are found when the satisfaction indicator focuses on work but not on other aspects of daily life.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberlhae006
Number of pages43
JournalThe World Bank Economic Review
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

JEL classification: F61, F66, I31, J28

© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / THE WORLD BANK.

Research programs

  • ESE - ECO


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