Understanding the Russian Malaise: The Collapse and Recovery of Subjective Well-Being in Post-Communist Russia
28 Pages Posted: 1 Jan 2014
Date Written: December 30, 2013
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
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