Changing Lifestyles in Transforming Societies
From plan to market: major trends in life satisfaction and subjective well-being: Leeni Hansson
From plan to market: major trends in life satisfaction and subjective well-being Leeni Hansson Introduction Since the late 1980s, the post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Euro- pean, as well as the countries of the former Soviet Union, have undergone a process of radical political and economic reforms. Estonia, like other Baltic countries, witnessed several transitions – from totalitarianism to democracy, from a centrally planned economy to a free-market economy, from a society characterised by shortage economy to a consuming society (Lauristin and Viha- lemm 1997; Keller and Vihalemm 2003). The main challenge of the period was to build up new institutions of an independent state and to change the ineffective plan economy, which was characterised by high centrality and low freedom of choice, into modern Western-style market economy. Social scientists have re- ferred to the period of transitions as ‘returning to the Western world’ (Lauristin and Vihalemm 1997) or returning to the ‘consuming West’ (Keller and Viha- lemm 2003). In the beginning, the collapse of the Soviet political and economic system created high expectations, as the new social order and free market were expected to generate economic growth and consumer freedom, and accordingly, increase well-being. However, most of the studies dealing with transition countries have revealed that contrary to the expectations, the populations of these countries had to pay for the macro-level socio-economic transformation with their well-being (Easterlin 2009; Zagorski 2011; Selezneva 2011; Ainsaar 2011; Abbott and Wallace 2012). In these countries, the mean subjective well-being scores which, in the...
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