Happiness Convergence in Transition Countries

37 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2017

See all articles by Sergei Guriev

Sergei Guriev

Sciences Po; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Nikita Melnikov

Princeton University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2017


The "transition happiness gap" has been one of the most robust findings in the life satisfaction literature. Until very recently, scholars using various datasets on life satisfaction have shown that residents of post-communist countries were significantly less satisfied with their lives than their counterparts in non-transition countries (controlling for income and other correlates of life satisfaction). The literature has explained this finding by the great macroeconomic instability of 1990s, by a substantial decrease in the quality and accessibility of public goods, by the major increase in inequality, and by the rapid depreciation of pre-transition human capital. All these factors were expected to subside over time --- at least after the post-Great-Recession recovery. In this paper, we consider two most recent datasets -- the third wave of the Life in Transition Survey (administered in 2015-16) and the 2010-2016 waves of the annual Gallup World Poll. We find that by 2016 the transition happiness gap had closed. This "happiness convergence" has taken place both due to a "happiness recovery" in post-communist countries after the Great Recession and due to a decrease in life satisfaction in comparator countries in recent years. We also find that the convergence in life satisfaction was primarily driven by middle-income young educated individuals, regardless of gender.

Suggested Citation

Guriev, Sergei and Melnikov, Nikita, Happiness Convergence in Transition Countries (October 2017). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12346, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3049902

Sergei Guriev (Contact Author)

Sciences Po ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337

HOME PAGE: http://econ.sciences-po.fr/staff/sergei-guriev

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Nikita Melnikov

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

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