The happiness industry, represented by tourism, culture, sports, senior care and other industries, has developed vigorously over recent years. It not only enhances people’s sense of happiness, but also stimulates consumption growth, promotes economic transformation and upgrading, and fosters new development momentum. Now, it is emerging as a highlight of China’s economic development with statistics showing that from 2016 to 2018, the average annual growth rates of the revenue of enterprises above designated size (enterprises with annual revenue above 20 million yuan) in the health services and elderly care industries reached 13.3% and 28.1% respectively.
The happiness industry is not a simple development of the traditional industry model but an emerging industry characterized by aspects such as health and green practices. It owes its emergence to the development of human society, especially the progress of science and technology that continuously improves people’s purchasing power and free time. In terms of China’s development, the rapid development of the happiness industry owes to the fact that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, and the people’s need for a better life is growing day by day. At the same time, China is advancing from a medium-and-high-income country to a high-income country, and the driving force of economic development is shifting from an investment-oriented one to a consumption-driven one, which has provided a foundation and driving force for the development of the happiness industry.
After people’s basic living conditions have been improved, the happiness industry can better meet people’s demands and yearning for a high-quality life. Furthermore, it can enhance people’s sense of gain, happiness and security. The ultimate goal of economic and social development is to achieve the all-around development of human beings. Some products and services referring to tourism, culture, sports and elderly care are closely related to the all-around development of human beings, and their continuous growth meets the needs of residents’ consumption transition from material consumption to service consumption.
Developing the happiness industry contributes to improving the quality of the service industry. In recent years, China has witnessed the continuous growth of its service industry, which has accounted for half of the national economy, having a contributing rate of 59.7% to economic growth in 2018. The optimization of the economic structure and the improvement of development quality will bring greater development opportunities to the service industry. As an important part of the service industry, the happiness industry has a great impact on its development quality. In the new era, the development of the happiness industry should not be judged solely by quantity, but also by quality, because products and services produced in an extensive manner may fail to meet people’s needs. For instance, with the increase of the elderly population year by year in China, the development level of geriatric nursing services will no longer be judged simply by the number of senior care institutions, but rather by whether they can provide comprehensive life and emotional care. Institutions that pay more attention to the quality of care will gain the recognition of more people and will have access to better development opportunities.
Owing to its low-energy, low-consumption, healthy and environment-friendly production mode, the happiness industry can provide its products and services to people while reducing its negative impact on the ecological environment. So it completely deserves to be called a green industry.
The happiness industry also has the potential to create more opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment, since most of the happiness industry is not capital-intensive. Given the fact that production factors in the happiness industry are mainly human capital, many people will have more opportunities to join the entrepreneurship team of the happiness industry to provide abundant and diverse products and services. At the same time, the happiness industry tends to continuously create new job opportunities due to people’s increasing demand for a better life and for personalized products and services. This is why we believe that the vigorous development of the happiness industry is conducive to increasing employment opportunities and people realizing more happiness in their work.
Considering the reality that the happiness industry has emerged as a new economic growth point and a sign of the improvement of the social development level, we must uphold the new concept of development to deepen the supply-side structural reform and vigorously improve the quality of products and services by bringing in advanced science and technology. That is how we can promote the sound development of the happiness industry.
This article was edited and translated from People’s Daily. Peng Kaiping is dean of the School of Social Sciences at Tsinghua University.