Contented housewives head happiness index

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 November, 2003, 12:00am

Housewives have replaced retirees as the happiest people in Hong Kong, a survey has found.

Married women who stay at home rated their happiness at 7.52 out of a possible 10 points, while wives who worked came in second at 7.26, followed by retirees (7.17) and students (6.97). The unhappiest group of people were those who were working to pay their school fees (6.23).

The second annual survey was conducted by City University and Radio Television Hong Kong. It interviewed 636 people aged between 14 and 65 on October 25. The 'happiness index' remained relatively stable this year, falling only slightly to 7.1 from 7.2 a year ago. Wong Sing-wing, a professor of social work at City University, said one reason why housewives were happier was because workplace stress was a main source of unhappiness for many people.

But he was surprised by the results: 'Many people thought [the index] would drop a lot because of Sars and the July 1 protest,' he said.

'But what we found is that it is still steady. One of the reasons is that since the July 1 demonstration the government has done a lot of reconciliation. We are starting to see that it listens to public opinion.

'Another reason is the recent economic recovery. The arrival of independent travellers from the mainland has created more jobs.' Women again rated themselves happier than men, with an average of 7.32 compared with 6.87.

The main causes of unhappiness were listed as bad family relationships (44 per cent), problems with friends (38 per cent) and stress from work (29 per cent).

A good family life was given as the top factor in happiness (60.5 per cent), followed by holidays and leisure activities (57 per cent), good friendships (53.5 per cent) and pay day (33.5 per cent).