ESRA 2017 Programme

Tuesday 18th July      Wednesday 19th July      Thursday 20th July      Friday 21th July     

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Tuesday 18th July, 11:00 - 12:30 Room: F2 105

Societal well-being & happiness

Chair Professor Wolfgang Aschauer (University of Salzburg )
Coordinator 1Professor Martin Weichbold (University of Salzburg)

Session Details

Paper Details

1. Life Satisfaction and Wellbeing in Transitional Societies of Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Miss Kseniya Kizilova (World Values Survey Association)
Professor Christian Haerpfer (World Values Survey Association)

Current paper deals with the analysis of dynamics of the level of well-being in the countries of Post-Soviet Eurasia who in 1991 entered the path of democratic transition. The peculiarity of this transformations process is that it affects all spheres of public life (politics, economy, civil society) and essentially influences the level of population well-being. The paper focuses first of all on subjective indicators of well-being, among them general life satisfaction, satisfaction with financial conditions and feeling of happiness. These indicators are used for calculation of the index of subjective wellbeing. The data used for analysis comprises from the World Values Survey wave 2 (1990-1994) to wave 6 (2010-2014). The following 10 countries of Post-Soviet Eurasia are included into the analysis: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The paper provides overview of dynamics of the level of subjective well-being in the mentioned countries in the whole period of transition – from 1991 to 2014. A comparative overview of the level of subjective well-being in Post-Soviet Eurasia and other world regions (Western Europe, MENA, Asia, North America, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa) in 2010-2014 (WVS wave 6) is presented. Cluster analysis method is used to distinguish 3 groups of respondents depending on the level of their subjective well-being. Description of each group, i.e. who are those people who are happy and who are unhappy, in the countries of former Soviet Union is provided. A comparative analysis of the group of “happy people” in 3 societies from different world regions – Ukraine, Sweden and Brazil – is provided. Principal components analysis and multivariate analysis are used to define the domains of respondents’ life which are to a largest extent affected by the level of subjective well-being as well as to determine the main factors causing the (primarily low) level of subjective well-being in transitional societies of Post-Soviet Eurasia.


2. Social Cohesion in Relation to Economic Outcomes and Sustainability in a Comparative Perspective
Ms Ekaterina Lytkina (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
Ms Natalya Voronina (National Research University Higher School of Economics)

Social cohesion was claimed to be conductive to individuals’ happiness and life satisfaction at the individual level, and to lead to socio-economic progress at the country level for European and OECD societies. On the other hand, technological progress, affluence as well as income equality were claimed to be predictors of social cohesion (Dragolov et al. 2016).
We use the methodology of the Cohesion Radar (Schiefer et al. 2012, Dragolov et al., 2013, 2016), where cohesion is operationalized within three profiles, whereas each of them consists of three latent variables. These are social relations (comprised by social network, trust in people and acceptance of diversity), connectedness (includes identification, trust in institutions and perception of fairness), and focus on common good (consists of solidarity and helpfulness, respect for social rules and civic participation). Using the aggregate data of ESS (2006-2008), EVS (2008), the shadow economy index (2007), transparency international corruption index (2008), we measure cohesion in 22 European countries including Russia and Ukraine.
In comparison to other countries, Russia and Ukraine have lowest levels of cohesion overall as well as of social relations as its constituent part. Russia is somewhat higher on social connectedness in comparison to Ukraine and a bit lower on focus on common good. The two countries are close in their performance to other post-Communist countries. Of interest for us in the presentation is to find how social cohesion is linked to economic outcomes and sustainability in a cross-country perspective for the 22 countries. Compared to other European countries analyzed, Russia and Ukraine were lower on socioeconomic development in the corresponding year, with Russia being somewhat ahead of Ukraine (Bertelsmann Transformation Index, 2008). The environmental policy level was low for both countries (BTI, 2008).


3. Times they're changing: the role of income and social capital for Europeans' well-being over the 2008 economic crisis
Dr Francesco Sarracino (STATEC and HSE)
Dr Marcin Piekalkiewicz (University of Siena)

We investigate whether the importance of income and social capital for people’s well-being changes in times of crisis. We use European Social Survey data from 2006 to 2012 to test two hypothesis: i. social capital matters for well-being also in times of crisis; ii. the importance of income increases only temporarily. Results from regression analysis with interaction effects and the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition support our hypotheses. We conclude
that also in times of crisis, when material concerns are urgent, policies for recovery should mind their effects for social capital.


4. Cross-level Factors in Sustainability Value Patterns
Ms Anna Shirokanova (LCSR, Higher School of Economics, Russia)

Sustainable development (SD) as a concept comes from the “effort to reconcile the competing demands of development and environmental protection” (Leiserowitz et al. 2006). It promotes long-term growth, which, as known from the literature, is likely to be boosted by high subjective well-being (SWB). Financial and non-financial sources of well-being have been examined in the literature so far, with both individual and contextual factors explored.
Values are one of the non-financial driving forces behind subjective well-being. However, the link that goes through values - SWB - sustainability is not straightforward. High well-being levels may be produced by different underlying value patterns, e.g. success and hedonism vs. care about others and openness to change. Some of these different value patterns, or value syndromes, would be able to contribute to SD, while others would not, being irrelevant or even harmful for the long-term development goals. Thus, sustainability values could be defined as a value syndrome that reflects the care about economic progress and care about nature. Such a definition resonates well with the group of ‘growth values’ (among the Schwartz basic values) spreading across the more developed countries Europe (Magun et al. 2016).
The goal of this paper is to make out the ways in which the interplay of values at individual and country levels is linked with higher well-being. There are problems of endogeneity and clustered data when solving this task. As for the first issue, the literature shows that, amongst endogeneity, the effect of values on SWB is somewhat stronger (Stanca 2011). However, since endogeneity could not be overcome, the true need lies in the meta-analysis of the link between values and SWB, which I start here. I deal with the second problem, clustered data, by applying two common approaches exercised alternatively by economists (cluster-robust standard errors) and sociologists (multilevel modelling). With the first approach, I could obtain unbiased estimates for the effects of values. With the second approach, I can also estimate the institutional and cultural effects on the country level that could importantly interact with the values on the individual and country levels alike. The data for the analysis come from the latest two waves of the World Values Survey and the World Bank indicators.