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A Success Story? Happiness in the New Post-Communist Eu Member States

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A success story? Happiness in the new post-communist EU member states

Sergiu Bălțătescu
University of Oradea, Romania

Abstract: 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: D31, D60, I31, O52, P2

Ten of the post-communist countries entered EU in 2004 and 2007. Citizens of these states are the poorest and, with some exceptions, the unhappiest in the EU. Specialists vary according to the prospects for their future evolution (in both objective and subjective terms). The optimists predict a large-scale and...

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