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Another Myth Busted: Actually These Days Russians Are Pretty Darn Happy

Busting the myth of despondent and depressed Russians -- true in the 1990s, but not today


In international sociological comparisons of happiness Russia and the ex-USSR have become pretty much bywords for very low levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

Here is a not atypical graph showing Russia as one several extreme outliers.

However, polling evidence suggests this is an increasingly dated view, much as demographic data has already long invalidated the “dying Russia” trope.

The above graph shows the results of VCIOM opinion polls on subjective happiness since 1990. The index represents the numbers of people saying they feel very or somewhat happy minus those saying they feel very or somewhat unhappy.

There was a peak at the height of the late 2000s boom, which went down during the recession. However, sentiments quickly recovered, and were impervious to the effects of the current (much milder) recession.

Moreover, the percentage of Russia now saying they are “very happy” – at 39% – is now almost twice as high as the 22% seen in 2008, to say nothing of the typical 5-10% figures during the 1990s.


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