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Jockey Club-initiated FAMILY Project releases Family Happiness Index Survey findings

Personal and family happiness can largely be built on harmonious family relationships, a recent survey has indicated, as although it found income level to be a related factor, it was not a decisive one. As long as there is harmony within the family, one’s subjective happiness tends to be higher.

The “Hong Kong Subjective and Family Happiness Index Survey 2016” was conducted by the Public Opinion Programme of The University of Hong Kong (HKU)  for “FAMILY: A Jockey Club Initiative for a Harmonious Society”, a project initiated by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust in collaboration with the School of Public Health of HKU. It was part of the “Hong Kong Family and Health Information Trends Survey”. Random telephone interviews were conducted with 4,038 Hong Kong residents to evaluate their subjective and family happiness, and the results were consolidated into the Hong Kong Subjective and Family Happiness Index.

The survey found that female members of the Hong Kong population were generally happier than their male counterparts; respondents aged 45 and above were relatively happier, while young people aged between 18 and 24 had the lowest happiness score; and respondents with higher household incomes tended to be higher on the happiness scale.

In addition, the survey revealed that family members tended to have higher overall subjective and family happiness scores when they spent more time together and communicated more frequently, especially by face-to-face or video calls, had meals together and shared more information related to health and family life.

At a recent press conference to announce the findings, Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology of the University of California, Riverside, a published author of happiness whose research career has been devoted to studying human happiness, explained that the survey results of the happiness index of Hong Kong people are broadly consistent with findings from the West, for example:

  • Women are happier than men over the life course;
  • Happiness level increases with age;
  • Individuals with higher income report higher happiness;
  • Support from family members, especially from a significant other, is associated with higher levels of happiness;
  • Individuals who engage in frequent positive social interactions are happier

Professor Lyubomirsky also prescribed four recommendations for helping Hong Kong people increase their subjective happiness:

  • Invest in your relationships, especially with significant others, family members, and close friends;
  • Make plans in your busy schedule to spend time with friends and family;
  • Join clubs, teams and organisations;
  • Instead of buying more material things, spend your money on:
    • Learning (e.g. lessons, classes)
    • Social activities (e.g. dinners, concerts, sporting events)
    • Travel
    • Other people (e.g. charitable contributions, buying coffee for a friend)

To help build a more harmonious society, the Club’s Charities Trust invited HKU’s School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine to launch the FAMILY Project collaboratively with funding of HK$250 million in 2007. The project is aimed at identifying the sources of family problems; devising, implementing and evaluating preventive measures; and promoting family Health, Happiness and Harmony (the 3Hs) through a citywide household survey, intervention projects and public education.

As another part of this project, the FAMILY Symposium 2017 was recently held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Under the theme of “Family + Well-being = Health, Happiness and Harmony”, it brought together local and overseas expertise from academics and social welfare experts to promote family well-being.

During the morning session, Professor Daniel Shek Tan-lei, Chairman of the Family Council, highlighted some of the current and upcoming social health challenges in Hong Kong that needed more attention from public health and social welfare practitioners. Two overseas experts on “human happiness” and “exercise psychology” gave their recommendations for increasing family happiness and physical activity.

In the afternoon, Principal Investigator of the FAMILY Project Professor Lam Tai-hing introduced the concept of Zero Time Exercise. Two plenary sessions on family health promotion and programmes sustainability were included to engage partners of the FAMILY Project in interactive, insightful discussions.