Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Quality of Life survey gives a thumbs down to role of Macau government

Posted by Kimberly on July 6, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
July 06 2007, page 1&10 (1,378 words)


The results from Macau’s second quarter Quality of Life report, released yesterday, show a significant reduction in satisfaction with the role of the government.
Changes from the first and second quarters show a reduction in satisfaction of 5.5 percent.
The report notes that “the recent restrictions imposed by the Chinese government on the issuance of individual visa tourists may have had a significant impact on the local economy, which is largely dependant on tourism revenues.”
It also reflects on the May 1 demonstrations, suggesting that this was “an unusual situation in Macau that [had] been highly publicised on the local media, fuelling negative sentiments towards the government.”
Mr Ricardo Rato, one of the project’s developers, said that as the government’s actions were highly criticised at these times, the figures might help explain the decrease in satisfaction with the government.
He said that while these two causes have not been proven, the committee will continue to see how the situation evolves.
Overall, the satisfaction with life in Macau, as measured by the National Wellbeing Index [NWI], dropped 2.6 percent to 57.6 percent, from 60.2 percent in the first quarter.
The report noted that this variation was somewhat surprising, “given the small period of time since the first survey.”
It also reflected that the past quarter had been a little agitated in Macau, “particularly on the economic and social fronts.”
The NWI, analysing satisfaction levels across six domains, also showed a decrease in satisfaction levels with the economy (-2.9 percent), territorial security (-2.7 percent) and social conditions (-2.6 percent).
According to the report, these decreases reveal “a potentially worrying trend that will be monitored in the coming quarters.”
At the same time, the Personal Wellbeing Index [PWI] remained quite stable, with only a 0.5 percent change, to 63.9 percent.
The report states the main focus of the study as being “to analyse and monitor the evolution of the life satisfaction of people in Macau.”
The report also seeks to study the impact of economic growth on the local Quality of Life and to analyse the social ad environmental costs of growth.
The report has focussed on two issues this quarter, namely, measuring the satisfaction of people in regards to local housing and labour.
According to the report, “we believe these issues are particularly interesting and relevant to Macau at this point in time.”
Seven life domains were used to ascertain levels of satisfaction on the PWI, ranging from standards to living to personal health and safety.
Compared to the last quarter, the results were very close and practically indistinguishable, except for personal health, where levels of satisfaction increased significantly, from 66.3 percent in the first quarter, to 68.4 percent in the second quarter.
PWI by occupation showed that the most satisfied group interviewed were professionals and executives, at 68.7 percent of the total.
PWI by income again showed no surprises, with those earning the most, having the highest level of satisfaction.
The group with the highest income showed a satisfaction level of 70.2 percent compared with only 59.5 percent for the lowest paid group.
The ‘golden standard’ for Western countries in terms of PWI is considered to be between 70-80 percent.
Macau’s PWI, at 63.9 percent, is considered to be at the moderate level, in line with previous research done within Asia, according to the report.
Two of the life domains showed the lowest levels of satisfaction; achievements in life scoring 56.6 percent and community connectedness at 60.4 percent.
The report states that, “once again, people in Macau do not show high levels of satisfaction and confidence with their achievements and future, indicating some apprehension regarding their capacity to benefit from the current strength of the economy.”
The highest levels reported were within the domains of personal relationships (71.2 percent) and health (68.4 percent).
With regards to the NWI, students and housewives scored the highest level of satisfaction, at 60 percent.
Income levels don’t seem to reflect a marked difference in satisfaction among the population but the report notes the lowest scoring group as being the middle-class, suggesting that this might be related to “the fact that this middle class has high expectations regarding the benefits of economic development and might feel frustrated by its inability to capitalise on them as much as expected.”
In regards to the two specific issues analysed this quarter, there are three main conclusions to be drawn.
Despite the highly publicised lack of available employees in Macau, the positive macro-economic situation and low levels of unemployment, reported levels of job satisfaction (62 percent), career opportunities (54.8 percent) and job stress levels (55.2 percent) were relatively low.
For the most part, people strongly disagreed that the importation of labour benefited their job situation and that the current labour importation regulations were adequate.
Thirdly, respondents believed that the ideal amount of control on labour importation should be relatively high, at 66 percent.
Respondents who were dissatisfied with existing labour importation regulations were at 35.8 percent, with 37.3 percent feeling that labour importation did not benefit their job situation.
Not surprisingly, higher income professionals and executives reported a higher level of job satisfaction.
Housing indicators show that 89 percent of those surveyed owned their homes with 64 percent having no monthly housing expenditures.
Those that did have expenditure spent about 20 percent of their household income on this area.
The report suggests that “this might be related to the local culture, where youngsters tend to live in their family homes until they moved out to form their own family, usually purchasing their own home at the same time.”
He considered it surprising considering that despite most respondents having no expenditures, they still reported dissatisfaction with with the areas covered by the survey.
These areas were satisfaction with accommodation, affordability of housing in Macau and the government’s efforts to improve the housing situation for locals.
In fact, all groups surveyed reported dissatisfaction with the above areas of housing.
People in Macau were not satisfied with the affordability of housing in Macau, at 36 percent, with 41.2 percent feeling that the government was not doing enough to improve the housing situation.
The report notes that this viewpoint “might be compounded by the steep price increases in housing seen in Macau in recent years.”
The report concluded that Macau’s PWI, at 63.9 percent was comparable to Hong Kong, at 65.9 percent, although the latter’s figures were taken from a 2006 survey, with no recent data available.
The figures reflect certain differences between perceptions of the respondents and the reality of life in Macau.
Professor Ruben Cabral, from the Inter-University Institute [IIUM] said, “We know today, that happiness produces knowledge, produces wealth, produces better living for everybody so this is a focus on quality of life rather than the more traditional socio-economic indicators.
“This is really a forward-thinking and fundamental shift in terms of trying to gauge what people think about how Macau should proceed” he said.
The IIUM were responsible for the development and implementation of the methodology, for the quarterly application of the questionnaire and for producing the report.
The project was sponsored by Macau Business and Business Intelligence, who also published the results.
Mr Paulo Azevedo from Macau Business and also the project developer said, “Things are changing in Macau, believe it or not. The local population is no longer silent. They want to share what they think is going right and let’s say, is less right.
“They say their quality of life is dropping 1.8 percent since the last quarter. They are probably right about it.”
He added that Macau Business and business magazines “will continue to do the best they can to provide our political, social and economic leaders with a more in-depth knowledge of what’s going on, so the government’s decisions will reach the people’s aspirations.”
A telephone survey method was used to call more than 4,000 residents. Over 1,000 responses were received, with a marginal error rate of three percent.
Professor Cabral emphasised that the rate of response compared with the number of residents contacted, was considered “statistically representative.”
The PWI and NWI were created by Professor Robert Cummins of Deakin University in Australia and developed by the International Wellbeing Group.
Professor Richard Whitfield is the primary researcher of the International Wellbeing Group in Macau.


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