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The happiness gap in Eastern Europe

Author

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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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    Cited by:

    1. Kiendrebeogo,Youssouf & Ianchovichina,Elena & Kiendrebeogo,Youssouf & Ianchovichina,Elena, 2016. "Who supports violent extremism in developing countries ? analysis of attitudes based on value surveys," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7691, The World Bank.
    2. repec:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:3:p:754-769 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:enepol:v:107:y:2017:i:c:p:151-157 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Asadullah, M. Niaz & Xiao, Saizi & Yeoh, Emile, 2018. "Subjective well-being in China, 2005–2010: The role of relative income, gender, and location," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 83-101.
    5. Coupe, Tom & Obrizan, Maksym, 2016. "The impact of war on happiness: The case of Ukraine," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 228-242.
    6. Tom Coupé & Maksym Obrizan, 2017. "Adolescents’ (Un)happiness in Transition," Working Papers in Economics 17/15, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
    7. Obrizan, Maksym, 2017. "Does EU membership prevent crowding out of public health care? Evidence from 28 transition countries," MPRA Paper 81708, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Hefeker, Carsten & Neugart, Michael, 2018. "Non-cooperative and cooperative policy reforms under uncertainty and spillovers," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 94-102.
    9. Pham, Tho & Talavera, Oleksandr & Zhang, Mao, 2018. "Self-employment, financial development, and well-being: Evidence from China, Russia, and Ukraine," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 754-769.
    10. Nikolova, Milena, 2016. "Minding the happiness gap: Political institutions and perceived quality of life in transition," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(S), pages 129-148.
    11. repec:iza:izawol:journl:2017:n:357 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Djankov, Simeon & Nikolova, Elena, 2018. "Communism as the Unhappy Coming," GLO Discussion Paper Series 192, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    13. Michal Brzezinski, 2017. "Diagnosing unhappiness dynamics: Evidence from Poland and Russia," Working Papers 2017-27, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Corruption; Government performance;

    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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