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The happiness gap in Eastern Europe

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  • Djankov, Simeon
  • Nikolova, Elena
  • Zilinsky, Jan

Abstract

Citizens in Eastern Europe are less satisfied with life than their peers in other countries. This happiness gap has persisted over time, despite predictions to the contrary by earlier scholars. It holds after controlling for a variety of covariates, such as the standard of living, life expectancy and Eastern Orthodox religion. Armed with a battery of surveys from the early 1990s to 2014, we argue that the happiness gap is explained by how citizens in post-communist countries perceive their governments. Eastern Europeans link their life satisfaction to higher perceived corruption and weaker government performance. Our results suggest that the transition from central planning is still incomplete, at least in the psychology of people.

Suggested Citation

  • Djankov, Simeon & Nikolova, Elena & Zilinsky, Jan, 2016. "The happiness gap in Eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 108-124.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:44:y:2016:i:1:p:108-124
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2015.10.006
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Corruption; Government performance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • P20 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - General

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