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Diagnosing unhappiness dynamics: Evidence from Poland and Russia

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  • Michal Brzezinski

    () (Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw)

Abstract

This paper studies the determinants of changes in unhappiness rate (low happiness, poverty of happiness, misery) over time. We focus on two post-socialist countries, Poland and Russia, which experienced radical social and economic transformations since the collapse of communism. Using data from the Polish Social Diagnosis project for 1991-2015 and data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey for 1994-2014, we investigate the microeconomic determinants of spectacular declines in unhappiness rates observed in the studied periods in Poland (a 56% fall in unhappiness) and Russia (a drop in the range from 46 to 75% depending on the unhappiness threshold chosen). Using a nonlinear decomposition methodology, we split the overall decreases in unhappiness rates into characteristics effects (related to the changing distribution of unhappiness-affecting factors) and coefficients effects (due to changing returns to the unhappiness-affecting factors). Our results show that unhappiness reductions in both countries were mostly driven by coefficient effects, while characteristics played a smaller, but a non-negligible role. In both countries, income growth accounted for about 15% of the total unhappiness reduction. In Russia, this effect was doubled by growing return to income as unhappiness-protecting factor, while in Poland income has been losing protecting power and in overall income had an unhappiness-increasing effect. For Russia, another strong unhappiness-protecting factor was return to employment. In case of Poland, good self-rated health and having children explains additional 15-20% of the unhappiness reduction.

Suggested Citation

  • Michal Brzezinski, 2017. "Diagnosing unhappiness dynamics: Evidence from Poland and Russia," Working Papers 2017-27, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
  • Handle: RePEc:war:wpaper:2017-27
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    File URL: http://www.wne.uw.edu.pl/index.php/download_file/3960/
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    Keywords

    Happiness; unhappiness; life satisfaction; decomposition; determinants; Poland; Russia;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

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