Using unique longitudinal survey data that employed the Day Reconstruction Method to measure experienced utility (EU) in rural China, this study reveals striking differences in the trends for life satisfaction and EU. We find that reported life satisfaction changed little over the period from 2006 to 2009. However, EU increased significantly during the same period. The improvement in EU is mainly due to more positive feelings about specific activities rather than changes in the time spent on different activities. These findings are consistent with the predictions of aspiration adaptation theory.
Cai, Shu, Albert Park, and Winnie Yip. 2020. “Time Well Spent Versus a Life Considered: Changing Subjective Well-Being in China.” Oxford Economic Papers, gpaa051. doi: 10.1093/oep/gpaa051.