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A Success Story? Happiness In The New Post Communist Eu Member States

1743 words - 7 pages

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

Sergiu Bălțătescu
University of Oradea, Romania www.sergiubaltatescu.info

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 ...view middle of the document...

The moderate evaluation speaks of an initial boost after accession (“feel-good factor”) then a slow increase (Delhey, 2001).

As a result of the review socio-economic research, I will formulate this question: will these states assure a steady growth in national income?

The field of happiness research, on the other side, is split between scholars that considers that happiness is stable over time (Costa, McCrae şi Zonderman, 1987; Veenhoven, 1994), and those who consider that this is “quite stable for the short term, but not in the long run, neither relatively nor absolutely” (Veenhoven,1994). Easterlin (1974) offers a milder variant of the first position, predicts that expected increase in GDP will not bring increases in happiness. Thus, the question derived from subjective well-being research is if changes in societal conditions in these countries will increase their citizen’s happiness? Differently put, is the accession of the EU post-communist states, from the point of view of happiness, a success story? And, independent of the results, which factors can explain the outcome?

Method

To give answers to these questions, I analyzed a series of social indicators, both objective (GNI per capita) and subjective: satisfaction with democracy in the country, and positive expectations in the next 12 months (personal life in general + household income), and satisfaction with life as
a whole.

http://www.sergiubaltatescu.info/list-of-works/3-international-conference-papers/SergiuBaltatescu-Asuccessstory. Happinessinthenewpost-communistEUmemberstates.pdf
I used data from the World Bank Development Indicators Database, Candidate Countries

Eurobarometer (2001-2004), and Eurobarometers 63-66 (2005-2008).

Variables used were the satisfaction with life as a whole, GNI per capita, measured by Atlas method (current US$), satisfaction with democracy, and optimism (Positive expectations in the next 12 months (personal life in general + household income).

Results

Post-communist developments in national wealth

All Eastern European states suffered a decline in both objective and subjective quality of life after the post-communism (Bălţătescu, 2007). However, the evolution between 2001 and 2008 of GNI per capita (computed by Atlas method (current US$)) in post-communist states now members of EU is positive.

In fact, post-communist countries increased in economic terms with much more than the rest of European Union, as the next graph shows. Comparing with year 2000, post-communist countries had a higher rate of GNI growth (227% compared with 160% in EU15 counries).

Which country increased more in national wealth? To answer this question I plotted GNI per capita in 2000 and relative differences in GNI per capita between 2000 and 2006.

Results show that the lower was the level with which a country started in 2000, the more it increased throughout this time span. Moreover, the...

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