Middle-class people earning less than HK$40,000 a month are the least satisfied with their lot, according to an annual "happiness" index. But Hongkongers as a whole are less happy this year - with the index slipping from 71.3 last year to 70.5, the Lingnan University survey found.
The scores dropped among all income groups except households earning more than HK$40,000 a month. The poll interviewed 926 adults aged 21 or above from November 8 to 13.
Professor Ho Lok-sang, director of the university's Centre for Public Policy Studies, said the slight drop could be attributed to the tense social and political environment.
"When you read newspapers or turn on the TV, you can easily find different parties facing each other on various disputable issues," Ho said.
The poll found that the biggest fall was among households making HK$30,000 to HK$39,999 a month. Their score dropped from 74.1 last year to 66.9.
Ho said that unlike grass-roots families, this group felt the pinch of inflation as their pay rises fell behind rising prices.
"They didn't receive any housing benefits from the government in the past," he said.
Investment company Royal Skandia earlier found Hongkongers on average say they need to earn HK$1.5 million a year to be happy, ranking third among 13 places in the world.
The university survey also found the public is less dissatisfied with the administration's public policies since Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took office on July 1. The satisfaction rate has risen from 4.69 last year to 4.77 on a zero-to-10 scale.
"Hongkongers are still discontented with some issues, such as the wealth gap and retirement protection, but C.Y. has acted swiftly to combat speculation in the property market and to crack down on parallel goods traders," Ho said.