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Happiness and Economic GrowthLessons from Developing Countries$
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Andrew E. Clark and Claudia Senik

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723653

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723653.001.0001

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Life Satisfaction in the Transition from Socialism to Capitalism

Life Satisfaction in the Transition from Socialism to Capitalism

Europe and China*

(p.6) 1 Life Satisfaction in the Transition from Socialism to Capitalism
Happiness and Economic Growth

Richard A. Easterlin

Oxford University Press

In China’s transition, per capita real output and consumption have multiplied more than fourfold in the past two decades, while in the European transition countries output and consumption have typically collapsed and then gradually recovered. The trend and U-shaped pattern of life satisfaction in the transition countries is chiefly the result of economic restructuring. Under socialism workers were assured of jobs and an extensive employer-provided safety net. Privatization was typically accompanied by a pronounced rise in unemployment followed by a mild decline, and an accompanying dissolution of the safety net. Workers’ concerns about fundamental matters such as finding and holding a job, the availability of health care, and provision for children and old age increased substantially. The lesson from the experience of the transition countries is the need for policies focused on jobs and a social safety net as well as the pursuit of economic growth.

Keywords:   life satisfaction, China, transition countries, economic growth, social safety net

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