A Success Story? Happiness in the New Post-Communist EU Member States
13 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 20, 2010
Ten of the post-communist countries managed to integrate into EU. Which are the subjective outcomes of socio-economic transformations in these countries? Did they manage to increase their citizens’ happiness in this process? To give an answer to these questions I used data from Candidate Countries Eurobarometer (2001-2004), Standard Eurobarometers (2005-2007), and World Bank Development Indicators. Developments in average national happiness have been compared with the economic (GDP, optimism concerning the level of living) and political (satisfaction with democracy) trends on the same time span. In all the studied societies, trends were positive after 2001. Eastern European countries showed higher increases in GNI per capita and also life satisfaction than in the rest of European Union. Those who started with lower levels increased more, strongly suggesting a possibility of convergence. A non-economic factor, satisfaction with democracy, mediates the influence of GNI on life satisfaction. Overall, access of Eastern European countries in European Union seems to be a success story, from both economic and non-economic points of view. However, the economic crisis may change the prognosis, raising the issue of sustainability of growth in happiness levels.
Keywords: subjective well-being, economic development, post-socialist countries, GDP
JEL Classification: D31, D60, I31, O52, P2
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