Each year the news magazine Oriental Outlook releases the results of an extensive city 'happiness' survey, with information compiled from around the country. Earlier this month, the outcome for 2017 was released, and the Spring City — seen by many as a generally laid back and comfortable place to live — did not crack the top 20.
Instead, Chengdu, Kunming's regional big brother of sorts, came out on top for the second straight year. Sichuan's capital city beat out other cities such as Hangzhou and Ningbo as the happiest place in China. The final rankings are based on surveys reputedly filled out by millions of participants each year.
The happiness algorithm is apparently a closely guarded secret, as Oriental Outlook did not even bother to publish the results on its own website, much less disclose its methodology. Instead, state media outlet Xinhua reported the outcome, stating that over the past 11 months 13.95 million respondents had completed a related survey.
The full list of China's happiest cities includes winner Chengdu, as well as the 10 other 'finalists' Hangzhou, Ningbo, Nanjing, Xi'an, Changchun, Changsha, Taizhou, Tongchuan and Xuzhou. Most of the cities included are clustered around the Yangtze River, with very few, save the winner, from the northern or western regions of the country.
Input for the survey is spread across 50 'indicator categories'. These include such things as a given city's overall levels of education and income, healthcare options, environmental protection and availability of public services. Other related factors such as levels of public safety, outlook on the future, employment options and legal services were also considerations.
Kunming was left out of the top 20, perhaps because residents are still grumpy and smarting over their collective failure following a months-long and incredibly expensive effort to win the coveted title 'Civilized City'. Either that, or there was a communal goal to maintain the Spring City's low profile and not share our admittedly uncivilized, but pleasant, town with anyone else.
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