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Are the Russians as unhappy as they say they are?


Veenhoven, Ruut (2001). Are the Russians as unhappy as they say they are?. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2(2), 111-136.


Since the 1980s, several polls in Russia have included questions about happiness. The responses to these questions were quite similar. Average happiness was low in comparison to other nations and declined over time. Ten years after the fall of communism Russians are less happy than during the communist period.

There are doubts about the validity of these self-reports. One source of doubt is that these data may not reflect Russians' self-appraisals adequately, due to distortions in translation and a differential response bias. A second misgiving is that true discontent could be rather superficial, and be largely due to unfavorable comparison with the West and folklore of negativism.

These qualms are checked in this article. It appears that the Russians are as unhappy as they say they are, and that they have good reasons to be so. The current unhappiness is not due to the Russian national character, but has more to do with the troublesome transitions taking place in Russian society.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Happiness Studies


Veenhoven, Ruut