Understanding the Russian Malaise: The Collapse and Recovery of Subjective Well-Being in Post-Communist Russia

28 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2014

See all articles by Ronald F. Inglehart

Ronald F. Inglehart

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR); National Research University Higher School of Economics

Roberto Foa

Harvard University - Department of Government; National Research University Higher School of Economics

Eduard Ponarin

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Christian Welzel

Leuphana University of Lueneburg; LCSR

Date Written: December 30, 2013

Abstract

This article analyzes the decline of subjective well-being and a sense of national self-esteem among the Russian people that was linked with the collapse of the communist economic, political and social systems in the 1990s — and a subsequent recovery of subjective well-being that began more recently. Subjective well-being is closely linked with economic development, democracy and physical health. The people of rich countries tend show higher levels than those of poor countries, but already in 1982, the Russia people ranked lower on happiness and life satisfaction than the people of much poorer countries such as Nigeria or India; external signs of this malaise were rising alcoholism and declining male life expectancy. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, subjective well-being in Russia fell to levels never seen before, reaching a low point in 1995 when most Russians described themselves as unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives as a whole. Since 2000, this trend has been reversing itself, but in 2011 Russia still ranked slightly lower than its level in 1981.

Keywords: World Values Survey, Russia, happiness, subjective well-being

JEL Classification: E11

Suggested Citation

Inglehart, Ronald F. and Foa, Roberto and Ponarin, Eduard and Welzel, Christian, Understanding the Russian Malaise: The Collapse and Recovery of Subjective Well-Being in Post-Communist Russia (December 30, 2013). Higher School of Economics Research Paper No. WP BRP 32/SOC/2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2373138 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2373138

Ronald F. Inglehart

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR) ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248
United States

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Roberto Foa

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Eduard Ponarin (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Christian Welzel

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

LCSR ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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