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Happiness in Transition: The Case of Kyrgyzstan


  • Ceema Namazie
  • Peter Sanfey



We analyze self-reported measures of satisfaction with life in a transition country, Kyrgyzstan, using 1993 household survey data. We test whether higher levels of satisfaction are associated with greater economic well-being. This hypothesis is strongly supported by the data. Unhappiness is prevalent among older people, the unemployed, and those who are divorced. There appears to be little correlation between happiness and either gender or education level. We find some evidence that income relativities, as measured by perceived position on the wealth ladder, also have a strong effect on life satisfaction.

Suggested Citation

  • Ceema Namazie & Peter Sanfey, 1998. "Happiness in Transition: The Case of Kyrgyzstan," Studies in Economics 9808, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  • Handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:9808

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rafal Antczak & Marek Dabrowski, 1994. "Economic Reforms in Kyrgyzstan," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0028, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Freeman, Richard B, 1978. "Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 135-141, May.
    3. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-1831, November.
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    5. Ruut Veenhoven, 1996. "Developments in satisfaction-research," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 1-46, January.
    6. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    7. Frank, Robert H, 1997. "The Frame of Reference as a Public Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1832-1847, November.
    8. Martin Raiser & Peter Sanfey, 1998. "Statistical review," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 6(2), pages 537-548, November.
    9. Morawetz, David, 1977. "Income Distribution and Self-Rated Happiness: Some Empirical Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(347), pages 511-522, September.
    10. ED Diener & Carol Diener, 1995. "The wealth of nations revisited: Income and quality of life," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 275-286, November.
    11. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
    12. Blanchflower, D.G. & Oswald, A.J., 1997. "A Study of Labour Markets and Youth Unemployment in Eastern Europe," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 499, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    13. George A. Akerlof & Andrew K. Rose & Janet L. Yellen, 1988. "Job Switching and Job Satisfaction in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(2), pages 495-594.
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    More about this item


    Happiness; Kyrgyzstan; Transition; Welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • P20 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - General


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