Bălţătescu 3/2007

Sociologie Românească (Romanian Sociology), Vol. V, no. 3/2007, pp. 23-41.

SR_3_2007_copertaBunăstarea subiectivă în noile ţări membre ale UE: o evaluare comparativă a tendinţelor

Subjective welfare in the new EU member countries: a comparative assessment of tendencies

Sergiu Bălţătescu*

*University of Oradea

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Abstract: Subjective well-being, defined as a personal assessment of one’s life, is increasingly used as an indicator for describing the human dimension of social change. It offers a global evaluation of the effects the social transformations have on the average people, filtered through his attitudes and experiences. The present paper focuses on the effects of transition in eleven postcommunist states that joined or are expected to join soon EU (including East Germany). There will be compared the subjective well-being levels at the beginning (1990-1991), in the middle (1996-1997) and towards the end of the transition process (2004-2005), and I will temp an evaluation of recent trends and predict future changes. Main data sources used were World Database of Happiness, Candidate Countries Eurobarometer (2001-2004), and standard Eurobarometers. Contrary to the theory of effects of .transition with different speeds., patterns of country differences were generally maintained through all this period. The common trend is V-shaped, with a minimum in 1996-1997, supposedly coinciding with or closed to the time when transition crisis hurt most. Only recently national averages seem to return to the initial levels. Close-to-date evolutions in life satisfaction are very slow, almost stagnant. Only the best situated countries can envisage the convergence moments. Other nations haven.t arrived in the block starts of catch-up race, showing that effects of successful transition on average people's lives are still waited.