Locals not very happy with personal lives: survey

Thursday, February 12, 2009
Issue 610, Page 7
Word count: 1232
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

A recent survey to investigate how people perceived their living conditions in Macau showed that locals’ satisfaction with their own lives had dropped to the lowest level since the beginning of 2007.

Meanwhile, people’s satisfaction with life in Macau was also at the second lowest level which the report said was mainly attributed to the current economic environment.

The Macau Quality of Life Report (QoL) for the fourth quarter 2008 was released by the Macau Inter-University Institute (IIUM) at its campus in Nape yesterday.

A QoL was prepared for every quarter since the beginning of 2007. However, due to “a lack of man power and a busy schedule”, the IIUM withheld the project between January and September last year and thus the latest report was the fifth survey covering the last three months of 2008.

The results of the telephone survey were derived from the data collected in the 1,108 valid responses given by Macau residents aged between18 and 65 or above during the period of November 1 to November 18, 2008.

The report consisted of two main indicators which are the Personal Well-being Index (PWI) and the National Well-being Index (NWI).

The PWI averages the satisfaction levels across seven aspects of personal life – health, personal relationships, safety, standard of living, achievements, community connectedness and future security.

The NWI is the average satisfaction across six aspects of national life – the economy, environment, social conditions, governance, business and territorial security.

All satisfaction values of each domain were presented as standardised percentages (0 percent to 100 percent), reflecting the strength of satisfaction with the special domain asked.

The passing value was at 50 percent. According to the report, 50 to 60 percent indicated “weak levels” of satisfaction, whilst 60 to 70 percent indicated “moderate levels” of satisfaction.

Personal Well-being Index

In the fourth quarter of 2008, the level of satisfaction with people’s own lives was registered at 63.3 percent, a moderate level which the report said was “normal” for an Asian society.

Despite there was only a 0.5 percent decrease from that in the preceding report for the fourth quarter of 2007, the value was the lowest reported among all the five Quality of Life surveys.

According to the findings, locals were most happy with their personal relationships at 68.7 percent, followed by their health conditions at 66.2 percent and feelings of safety at 65.2 percent.

In contrast, achievements in life and future security were the two domains having obtained the least satisfaction, at 59 percent and 60.3 percent respectively.

The report said that the figures showed people derived higher levels of satisfaction from social network and health, “which can be considered normal in a relatively young population such as Macau”.

However, it pointed out that the lower satisfaction which laid on achievements in life, future security and standard of living was “surprising” in face of the rapid growth of Macau over the past few years.

Hence, the report suggested that the result might signal that “people do not feel they are getting their fair share of the economic growth”.

At the same time, as indicated by the satisfaction level of future security, locals were not very confident that their situation would improve in the future, which was a “normal reaction at this time of economic downturn”.

The biggest variation in the individual PWI domains concerned satisfaction with health and personal relationships which both decreased by 1.9 percent compared with the preceding findings.

The fast-paced development in Macau eventually led to the growing community of imported labours who “intensified workplace competition and stress, which are taking a toll on people’s personal relationships and health”, the report suggested.

National Well-being Index

A weak level of satisfaction with life in Macau was reported at 57.9 percent in the last quarter of 2008, a value close to the second quarter of 2007 at 57.6 percent which was the lowest index among the five surveys.

Analysed by the six domains of national life surveyed, people were most satisfied with the territorial security of Macau at 64 percent, followed by the economic situation at 58 percent and business at 57.7 percent.

The NWI registered a decrease of 1.9 percent over the same period of 2007.

The report attributed the fall to a nine percent “steep decrease” in the satisfaction with the economic situation caused by the global financial crisis.

Despite being the lowest scoring domain at 54 percent, satisfaction with governance had logged an increase of two percent, after dropping 5.6 percent in 2007 when large social demonstrations were staged on streets and the corruption scandal of the former transport and public works secretary was revealed.

However, the findings showed that “despite a slight recovery, the government hasn’t yet managed to recover the satisfaction levels presented in the beginning of 2007”, according to the report.

The report also said that the previous surveys all suggested that age was one of the factors affecting people’s satisfaction with their lives.

It was found that the 46 to 55 age group was the least happy with life in Macau and also one of the least satisfied with their own lives.

Job satisfaction

The researchers also analysed people’s well-being at work from the data collected.

An overall score of 4.4 out of seven was obtained which implied a relatively low level of satisfaction.

According to the scale, the majority of the respondents were neutral (32 percent) or satisfied in some way (46.3) with their jobs, whilst 21.7 percent of the people answered on the negative end of the scale.

The report pointed out young professionals aged 18 to 25 were the least satisfied with their jobs, and working people aged 65 or above reported the highest level of job satisfaction.

In addition, it was said that people working in the education industry registered a much higher level of job satisfaction than those in other industries such as communications and information technology, casino and transportation.

People working at their current jobs for longer periods also reported a significant higher level of satisfaction than others who worked for one year or less in a certain company.

Turnover intentions

The subjective probability that an individual will change his or her job within a certain period of time was also studied as part of the report.

The mean score reached a moderate 4.34 out of seven, which the researcher said the turnover intentions were “relatively high”.

According to the scale, 20 percent of the people had had an intention to leave their current employers, 33.1 percent reported neutral turnover intentions whilst 46.9 percent showed no eagerness to change jobs.

The report suggested that younger people aged 18 to 25 were at a higher risk of abandoning their current jobs, in contrast to the “most loyal group” of between 56 and 65 years old.

At the same time, it was said that people working in communications and information technology as well as casinos had the highest turnover intentions.

However, the findings indicated that the longer people worked at their current jobs the least likely they were to leave them.

According to Professor Richard Whitfield, the Pro-Rector for Organisational Development of the IIUM, the next report for the first quarter of 2009 will focus on “economic outlook, personal debt and personal savings” and results will be announced between April and May.

The Macau Quality of Life Report is a project commissioned by De Ficcao Multimedia Projects for the IIUM.


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