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Diagnosing Unhappiness Dynamics: Evidence from Poland and Russia

Michał Brzeziński ()

Journal of Happiness Studies, 2019, vol. 20, issue 7, No 14, 2327 pages

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: Happiness; Unhappiness; Life satisfaction; Decomposition; Determinants; Poland; Russia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s10902-018-0044-6

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