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Diagnosing unhappiness dynamics: Evidence from Poland and Russia

Michał Brzeziński ()

No 2017-27, Working Papers from 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.

Keywords: Happiness; unhappiness; life satisfaction; decomposition; determinants; Poland; Russia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I31 J17 J21 P36 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cis, nep-eur, nep-hap and nep-tra
Date: 2017
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http://www.wne.uw.edu.pl/index.php/download_file/3960/ First version, 2017 (application/pdf)

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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:war:wpaper:2017-27

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