گم شدن در مرحله تغییر : رضایت از زندگی در مسیر سرمایه داری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8593||2009||16 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 71, Issue 2, August 2009, Pages 130–145
In the 1990s transition from socialism to capitalism in Eastern Europe life satisfaction followed the collapse and recovery of GDP, but failed to recover commensurately. By 2005, with GDP averaging about 25 per cent above its early 1990s level, life satisfaction was typically back to its earlier level, but was arguably still below pre-transition values. Increased satisfaction with material living levels occurred at the expense of decreased satisfaction with work, health, and family life. In the decade of the 1990s, disparities in life satisfaction increased with those hardest hit being the less educated and persons over age 30; women and men suffered about equally.
What has happened to subjective well-being as the former communist nations of Europe transitioned from centrally planned to market economies? Are people more or less satisfied with their lives? Have disparities in life satisfaction within the population widened or lessened? Are there differences between women and men, young and old, and the more and less educated? Although one might suppose these questions are of interest – some might even say, fundamental interest, considering that they involve comparing capitalism and socialism – they have received little attention in the voluminous literature on transition economies. This paper seeks to help fill this gap. The geographic scope is central, southern, and Eastern Europe; the time, the first decade of transition, 1989–1999, followed by an attempt to place this period in the perspective of recent and earlier experience. The broad economic facts of the transition have been spelled out numerous times, especially for the period of the 1990s (see, for example, Campos and Coricelli, 2002, Havrylyshyn, 2006, Mickiewicz, 2005, Murrell, 1996, Philipov and Dorbritz, 2003, Simai, 2006, Svejnar, 2002, UNICEF, 2001 and World Bank, 2002). Most notable was an abrupt and massive economic collapse, with measured GDP falling to levels of around 50–85 per cent of the 1989 level, usually in a few years or less. Subsequently GDP recovered somewhat, though rarely by 1999 to the initial level. A visiting economist from Mars, confronted only with these GDP data, might well conclude that an economic disaster on the scale of the Great Depression had befallen some 400 million of the world's population.1 On the plus side, consumer goods shortages – a chronic condition under socialism – largely disappeared. With regard to factor inputs, capital shrank and there was a significant increase in flows out of the labor force. Unemployment rates rose from near zero to double-digit levels in many countries. “[P]overty and inequality … both increased sharply in the beginning of the transition and have so far  not shown signs of declining” (Campos and Coricelli, 2002, p. 816; cf. also World Bank, 2000b). The social safety nets that prevailed under socialism were severely ruptured (Fox, 2003, Orenstein and Haas, 2005, Pascall and Manning, 2000, Simai, 2006, UNICEF, 1999, UNICEF, 2001 and World Bank, 2000a). Accompanying these striking socio-economic developments were equally dramatic changes in the political system. Former police states were replaced by new, often democratic, regimes, and the populations endowed with much wider civil and political rights. Exactly how such massive changes should play out in terms of people's feelings of well-being is far from clear a priori. On the economic side, there is the debate on whether absolute or relative income determines well-being. If absolute income, then one might expect well-being more or less to follow the course of GDP. If relative income, then well-being might remain unchanged, people simply adapting hedonically to economic vicissitude. This would be in keeping with the growing evidence that in upper income nations (and those under study here fell in 1989 in the upper middle-income group) increasing GDP is not accompanied by growing happiness (Easterlin, 1974, Easterlin, 1995 and Easterlin, 2005). There is also the question of how political change might weigh against economic in its impact on life satisfaction. On the one hand, there is the evidence that, when asked about their sources of well-being, people worldwide rarely mention political circumstances. Rather, they put foremost those concerns that principally occupy their time, most notably making a living, family life, and health (Easterlin, 2000). On this basis, one might argue that economic circumstances would carry the day. On the other hand, there are findings for Switzerland that direct democracy, in the form of access to initiatives and referenda, has a significant positive effect on well-being, other things equal (Frey and Stutzer, 2000). Also, a recent cross-country analysis of mostly European nations finds a significant positive relation between democracy and happiness, controlling for income, language, and religion (Dorn et al., 2007).2 If political change were particularly stressed as determining life satisfaction, one might expect a rise in subjective well-being despite adverse economic events. The few published empirical studies of trends in life satisfaction during transition usually relate to only one country, cover varying time periods, and give no consistent picture. Frijters and his collaborators find life satisfaction rising along with income in East Germany from 1991 to 2001 (Frijters et al., 2004a and Frijters et al., 2004b) and also varying directly with ups and downs in income in Russia between 1995 and 2001 (Frijters et al., 2006). These results are, in their view, vindication of the importance of absolute income in determining well-being. Saris (2001) and Veenhoven (2001) both report declines in life satisfaction in Russia between 1988 and the late 1990s, and Lelkes (2006), a decline in Hungary from the early to late 1990s. Hayo and Seifert (2003) consider economic, as opposed to overall, well-being from 1991 to 1995 and find in 7 of 10 transition countries declines in the proportion saying their economic situation is satisfactory or very satisfactory. All in all, neither theory nor the existing evidence point conclusively to the course of life satisfaction during the transition. (A newly published article by Sanfey and Teksoz, 2007 is discussed in the final section of this paper.) The analysis that follows first describes briefly the concept and methods employed. It then turns to evidence on the course of life satisfaction during the decade of the 1990s, and, following this, an analysis of who in the population gained and lost in life satisfaction. Finally, the movement of life satisfaction both before and after the 1990s is considered. The primary aim is to present the facts, but the facts immediately raise questions of “why”, and so some tentative explanations are ventured, essentially hypotheses deserving further exploration. As will be seen, life satisfaction gives a rather different perspective on the transition than that common in economic studies that seek to evaluate different types of economic reform.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
To sum up, the collapse of output and employment in the European transition countries precipitated a sharp drop in life satisfaction. Subsequently GDP improved, but throughout the 1990s stagnating labor market conditions and a deteriorating social safety net prevented a commensurate recovery of life satisfaction. Within the population differences in life satisfaction rose noticeably as wage and employment disparities increased, and family life was disrupted. Those hardest hit were the less educated and persons over age 30, with women and men suffering about equally. The observed movement of life satisfaction implies that economic circumstances trumped political in their impact on subjective well-being. By 2005, life satisfaction had recovered to its early 1990s level or better, but this return required an increase in GDP per capita averaging about 25 per cent above the early 1990s value. Moreover, the available evidence, though quite limited, suggests that even in 2005 life satisfaction may have been below the levels prevailing before the 1990s. The explanation of the 2005 shortfall relative to pre-1990s levels may be that the positive contribution to life satisfaction of improved material living levels was outweighed by losses in employment security, health and child care, and provision for old age. The positive correlation in the transition countries between the movement in life satisfaction and GDP per capita is at variance with the oft-reported absence of association between time series trends in happiness and economic growth in higher income countries. The explanation of this asymmetric response of life satisfaction to decreases versus increases in GDP may be the psychological phenomenon of loss aversion—that an increase in income from an initial reference point means considerably less to people in terms of well-being than a loss of equivalent amount. The present analysis is based on intermittent observations of life satisfaction for a limited number of countries. Indeed, when one tries to identify countries with life satisfaction observations close to the start of the transition, the number is reduced to only eight. Moreover, the new republics of Central Asia are wholly omitted because none were included in wave 2 of the WVS. The generalizations here refer to the “transition countries” as a whole, but even with the limited data available more might still be done to differentiate among the experiences of different countries. It is possible too that there are unpublished surveys conducted in some countries under communism that might throw light on subjective attitudes under socialism prior to the transition (cf. Kuran, 1991). The study by economists of life satisfaction and happiness is new, and we are only beginning to understand what these measures tell us about well-being. It seems reasonable to suggest, however, that they add a dimension to the evaluation of well-being that is a useful complement to the standard armory.19 The human cost of the economic transition was enormous, with the lives of millions of people turned upside down. In a statement specifically about Russia, but representative of the transition countries generally, Brainerd and Cutler (2005, p. 125) point out that “[b]efore 1989, Russians lived in a country that provided economic security: unemployment was virtually unknown, persons were guaranteed and provided a standard of living perceived to be adequate, and microeconomic stability did not much affect the average citizen.” All or most of this went by the board with the transition to free markets. So too did provision of health and child care. Family life was torn apart as divorce rates soared. Alcoholism, smoking and drug use grew markedly. Suicide rates increased, and domestic violence against women rose. Families were uprooted, some moving back to villages where subsistence agriculture might provide some economic support. The impact of these changes on people's personal lives and their well-being is almost totally missed by GDP per capita. Even a measure of income inequality – an increasingly popular supplement to GDP – barely hints at what happened. In contrast, the life satisfaction measure, which reflects not only material well-being, but the everyday concerns and worries of women and men about work, health, and family, is more indicative of the far-reaching changes that were taking place. Life satisfaction is not an exhaustive measure of well-being. But if, in formulating transition policy, some consideration had been give to this measure, perhaps there would have been fewer “lost in transition.”