| JRL Home | JRL Simple/Mobile | RSS | Newswire | Archives | JRL Newsletter | Support | About
Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

The state of Russian happiness

Life is getting better in most of Russia, but that isn't making people happier.

Two recent surveys have found that Russians are the unhappiest people in Europe even though many people feel that the quality of living is creeping up in most regions.

However, just 37 per cent of Russians told Hamburg's Foundation for Future Studies that they were happy with their lives, the lowest score of 13 nations surveyed and well down on the Euro average of 68 per cent.

The Russian view

While the Hamburg survey sought to draw a link between economic stability and personal happiness, Russians tend to feel that satisfaction is more intangible.

And one of the problems comes from that mysterious Russian mentality, which has perplexed outsiders for generations.

"The problem is not the economic climate, political system and the external environment, I believe, but our mentality ­ being happy is not the done thing here," Elena from St. Peterburg told the Moscow News.

And Ekaterina from Irkutsk agreed that there is something with the Russian set of mind that is "tuned for self-deprecation".

"It's easy to be sad, offended and unloved ­ you don't really need to think of any reasons for that ­ there always will be the weather, puddles, roads, petrol prices and lots of other things," she said adding that you always need to make an effort to be happy.

"The passiveness of the people could be reason for that," Anastasia from Moscow said, claiming that "shouting about the mess instead of clearing up" is a rather common attitude.

But not everybody is unhappy about being in Russia.

"I feel I'm happy in my country, because I can achieve everything by myself," Elena from Novosibirsk said.


The most satisfied Europeans live in Denmark where 97 per cent are happy, according to the poll carried out by the Foundation for Future Studies.

15,000 interviewees older than 14 years old across 13 countries, including Austria, Britain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey, was asked to rate their happiness.

And the findings confounded economic expectations: debt-laden Greece recorded 80 per cent happiness, while Germany's economic powerhouse polled just 61 per cent ­ the third most miserable nation after Russia and Poland.

Purchasing pleasure?

The Hamburg findings also suggested that wealth does play a part in creating happiness. Just 45.1 per cent of people with a monthly income below 900 euros were happy, compared with 76 per cent of those on 3,600 or more.

And that offers hope for a happier Russia, according to the Institute of Regional Information, which found that improved scores for individual income, along with public safety, child mortality, the attractiveness of the region, development of services and employment opportunities, were edging the national quality of life higher.

Two oil-rich areas ­ the Yamalo-Nentsky and Nenetsky Autonomous Districts ­ have sprung from 10th and 17th positions to third and sixth respectively. Moscow and Petersburg, as the country's financial powerhouses, top the happiness charts.

However, when it comes to contentment, Russians tend to talk more about non-financial values.

"I wouldn't be happier in another country," Sergei from Yoshkar-Ola said. "It feels better to me to live knowing that my relatives are by my side."

"A person is happy where his or her family is ­ if it's nice in the family it doesn't really matter what's happening outside," Elena from Belgorod said.

Keyword Tags:

Life in Russia, Culture, Arts - Russia, Europe - Russian News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

Bookmark and Share - Back to the Top -        


Bookmark and Share

- Back to the Top -        

  Follow Johnson's Russia List on Twitter Tweet