Title: Life satisfaction of rich and poor under socialism and capitalism

Authors: Richard A. Easterlin

Addresses: Department of Economics, University of Southern California, 3620 South Vermont Ave. KAP 300, Los Angeles, CA, 90089, USA

Abstract: Was the difference in life satisfaction between the more and less affluent noticeably smaller under socialism than capitalism? There is no simple answer. If, for example, one compares six 'Soviet model' countries with developed capitalist countries generally, the answer is yes. But if one compares these six countries with the market-oriented Nordic welfare states, the answer is no - the happiness gap between rich and poor is not significantly different. What is clear, however, is that in countries transitioning from socialism to capitalism, the happiness gap has typically risen to levels significantly higher than in developed capitalist countries. The principle reason for the larger gap in the transition countries is a substantial worsening of satisfaction with life among the less advantaged segment of the population due in part to relatively large increases in unemployment and income inequality in those countries.

Keywords: happiness; subjective well-being; socialism; capitalism; transitioning economies; life satisfaction; unemployment; income inequality; income distribution; affluence; rich; poor; wealth; poverty.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHD.2012.050836

International Journal of Happiness and Development, 2012 Vol.1 No.1, pp.112 - 126

Received: 17 Sep 2012
Accepted: 26 Sep 2012

Published online: 23 Nov 2012 *

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