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The Happiness Gap in Eastern Europe

39 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2015  

Simeon Djankov

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics

Elena Nikolova

Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI); IOS Regensburg

Jan Zilinsky

New York University (NYU)

Date Written: September 9, 2015

Abstract

Citizens in Eastern Europe are less satisfied with life than their peers in other countries. This happiness gap has persisted over time, despite predictions to the contrary by earlier scholars. It holds after controlling for a variety of covariates, such as the standard of living, life expectancy and Eastern Orthodox religion. Armed with a battery of surveys from the early 1990s to 2014, we argue that the happiness gap is explained by how citizens in post-communist countries perceive their governments. Eastern Europeans link their life satisfaction to higher perceived corruption and weaker government performance. Our results suggest that the transition from central planning is still incomplete, at least in the psychology of people.

Keywords: happiness, corruption, Eastern Europe

JEL Classification: D73, I30, P35

Suggested Citation

Djankov, Simeon and Nikolova, Elena and Zilinsky, Jan, The Happiness Gap in Eastern Europe (September 9, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2658136 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2658136

Simeon Djankov

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics ( email )

1750 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Elena Nikolova (Contact Author)

Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI) ( email )

Zvolensk√° 29
Bratislava, 82109
Slovakia

IOS Regensburg ( email )

Landshuter Str. 4
Regensburg, 93047
Germany

Jan Zilinsky

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

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