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Does transition make you happy?



This paper analyses life satisfaction in transition countries using evidence from the World Values Survey. The paper demonstrates that individuals in transition economies on average record lower values of self-reported satisfaction with life compared with those in non-transition countries. A comparison across time for a smaller sample of countries shows that life satisfaction levels have returned close to pre-transition levels in most cases, after a dip in the mid-1990s. The socio-economic groups that exhibit relatively higher levels of happiness include students, people with higher levels of education and those on higher incomes. Happiness declines with age until the early-50s and is slow to recover afterwards. Self-employed people in transition countries show a level of satisfaction as high as, or higher than, full-time employees, in contrast to evidence from non-transition countries. In addition, satisfaction levels are highest in those countries where standards of economic governance are most advanced and where inequality is lower.