People in historically rice-farming areas are less happy and socially compare more than people in wheat-farming areas.

Click here for the article published by Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 124(5), May 2023, 935-957; doi:10.1037/pspa0000324

Using two nationally representative surveys, we find that people in China’s historically rice-farming areas are less happy than people in wheat areas. This is a puzzle because the rice area is more interdependent, and relationships are an important predictor of happiness. We explore how the interdependence of historical rice farming may have paradoxically undermined happiness by creating more social comparison than wheat farming. We build a framework in which rice farming leads to social comparison, which makes people unhappy (especially people who are worse off). …

… The rice farmers socially compare more, and farmers who socially compare more are less happy. If interdependence breeds social comparison and erodes happiness, it could help explain the paradox of why the interdependent cultures of East Asia are less happy than similarly wealthy cultures. …

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