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Can policy make us happier? Individual characteristics, socioeconomic factors, and life satisfaction in Central and Eastern Europe

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  • Andrés Rodríguez-Pose

    (IMDEA Social Sciences Institute)

  • Kristina Maslauskaite

    (College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium)

Abstract

In the last decade, Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries have witnessed a rapid economic convergence vis-à-vis Western Europe. However, this rapid growth has not been matched by a similarly rapid increase in life satisfaction, which has remained low in the European context. This paper sets out to address this conundrum, by looking at the individual and macro-level determinants of individual life satisfaction in ten CEE countries. The results highlight that while Central and Eastern Europeans share the same individual determinants of happiness as people in the West (despite some significant cross-country variation), macroeconomic and institutional differences are the key factors behind the lack of convergence in life satisfaction. On the macroeconomic side, GDP growth is still a source of increasing well-being, but the happiness bonus associated with it is becoming smaller. The different levels of individual happiness in CEE are therefore mostly determined by institutional factors such as corruption, government spending and decentralisation, making policies aimed at enhancing institutional quality capable of bringing about substantial improvements in the overall life satisfaction of the people in the region.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Kristina Maslauskaite, 2011. "Can policy make us happier? Individual characteristics, socioeconomic factors, and life satisfaction in Central and Eastern Europe," Working Papers 2011-19, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
  • Handle: RePEc:imd:wpaper:wp2011-19
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    Cited by:

    1. Titus Corlatean, 2019. "Right to Happiness – A Challenge for International Organizations and Governments," Proceedings of the 14th International RAIS Conference, August 19-20, 2019 008TC, Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies.
    2. Camilla Lenzi & Giovanni Perucca, 2016. "Life Satisfaction across Cities: Evidence from Romania," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 52(7), pages 1062-1077, July.
    3. Nazim Habibov & Alena Auchynnikava & Rong Luo, 2019. "Does Community Level Trust Improve Self-Rated Welfare?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 146(3), pages 669-697, December.
    4. repec:prg:jnlpep:v:preprint:id:658:p:1-18 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.
    6. Samuel Adedayo MUYIWA, 2021. "Influence of Politics of Governance on Management of Coronavirus in Nigeria," RAIS Journal for Social Sciences, Research Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, vol. 5(1), pages 29-38, May.
    7. Sergei Guriev & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2009. "(Un)happiness in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 143-168, Spring.
    8. Sujarwoto Sujarwoto & Gindo Tampubolon, 2015. "Decentralisation and Citizen Happiness: A Multilevel Analysis of Self-rated Happiness in Indonesia," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 455-475, April.
    9. Cristina Bernini & Alessandro Tampieri, 2017. "Urbanization and its Effects on the Happiness Domains," DEM Discussion Paper Series 17-10, Department of Economics at the University of Luxembourg.
    10. Kalenborn, Christine & Lessmann, Christian, 2014. "Regional Income Inequality lowers Life Satisfaction: Evidence from OECD Countries," VfS Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100561, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    11. Ręklewski Marek & Ryczkowski Maciej, 2016. "The Polish Regional Labour Market Welfare Indicator and Its Links to Other Well-being Measures," Comparative Economic Research, Sciendo, vol. 19(3), pages 113-132, September.
    12. 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.
    13. Nazim Habibov & Elvin Afandi, 2015. "Pre- and Post-crisis Life-Satisfaction and Social Trust in Transitional Countries: An Initial Assessment," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 121(2), pages 503-524, April.
    14. Camilla Lenzi & Giovanni Perucca, 2020. "The nexus between innovation and wellbeing across the EU space: What role for urbanisation?," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 57(2), pages 323-349, February.
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    16. Celia Dana BESCIU & Armenia ANDRONICEANU, 2017. "The link between social inequalities, health’ system characteristics and R&D expenditure- worldwide evidence," Romanian Statistical Review, Romanian Statistical Review, vol. 65(2), pages 21-41, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Happiness; Convergence; Easterlin paradox; Institutions; Corruption; Decentralisation; Central and Eastern Europe;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

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