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This background report provides a general overview of the evolution of the critical issue of culture and society in U.S.-China relations and its wider implications for world affairs.

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May 6, 2020

Culture and Society in China and the United States Background Report

The field of happiness studies is a growing area of research investigating new and more holistic ways of measuring human well-being and societal flourishing beyond impersonal and oversimplified macroeconomic indicators like gross domestic product and per capita income. Happiness is an extremely subjective concept, and our evaluations of our own happiness rely to a strong degree on the cultural assumptions we use to assess our lives. It is therefore important to understand not only how Americans and Chinese rate their own happiness differently, but also how they understand the idea of happiness differently. This background report examines how factors like culture, socioeconomic status, and family dynamics affect individual perceptions of happiness in the United States and China.

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