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Sergiu Baltatescu Department of Sociology and Social Work

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1 Subjective wellbeing in a post-communist country Romania’s International Wellbeing Index
Sergiu Baltatescu Department of Sociology and Social Work University of Oradea Romania Robert A. Cummins School of Psychology Deakin University Australia Sixth ISQOLS Conference “Advancing Quality of Life in a Turbulent World” November 10-14, 2004 Philadelphia, U.S.

2 Subjective well-being in Romania
Large country (at European scale). Low-income. Experienced a painful transition from the communist society to the democratic political system and market economy. Subjective well-being in Romania Decreased almost continuously after fall of communism. Income is a good predictor for it. Now has one of the lowest levels in Europe.

3 Findings on subjective well-being in transition countries
Income levels are higher determinants than in other countries (Diener, 1994). In large Eastern European countries, cleavages were found due to social stratification: sex, age, place of residence, ethnicity (Delhey, 2004). Bottom-up and top-down effects included (Saris, 2001). A group of frustrated achievers (Graham, 2002).

4 Objectives Compare findings with results of other studies in Romania.
Baltatescu: ? Objectives Compare findings with results of other studies in Romania. Examine the psychometric properties of PWI and NWI in the context of a transition country. Explore the socio-demographic variations in PWI and NW and compare with established results and prediction of already proposed theories.

5 Method: Survey Date: November 2003
Place: 16 localities, Bihor County, North-West of Romania. Selection: random route, person 18+ whose birthday comes next Sample: general population, representative stratified, N=368 Interview: at respondent’s home, with professional interviewers Instrument: questionnaire, with PWI, NWI, socio-demographics and other variables. Non-response rate: 30%. 8% of the cases were also removed. Weighting: by sex, age, place of residence and ethnicity.

6 Comparative results: PWI
As expected, levels are lower than in Australia or Ireland, but higher than in Algeria Exceptions: Personal relationships, Community connectedness Tentative explanation: different levels of individualism/colectivism

7 Comparative results: NWI
Exception: National Security (similar levels with the first two countries) Tentative explanation: Recent admission of Romania in OTAN As (again) expected, levels are lower than in Australia or Ireland, but higher than in Algeria

8 Overview: PWI and Life as a whole
Personal relationships items: highest ratings Reversed items order compared with Australia. Achievements and standard of living: lowest ratings PWI and Life as a whole also in reverse order compared with Australia.

9 Overview: NWI and Life in Romania
National security: highest rating Same order like in Australia, except Economic situation Government: lowest rating NWI and Life in Romania in same order compared with Australia.

10 Discussion International comparison gave the expected results, except the highest levels ratings to relationship items in Romania. Individualism/collectivism levels may be an explanation for this, but why is not the case for Algeria? Theory of wellbeing homeostasis (Cummins) adequately predicts the difference between personal and national wellbeing items. The “gold standard” for subjective well-being does not fits Romania.

11 Discussion On the other hand, well-being homeostasis theory does not predict a lower level of ‘Life as a whole’ in comparison with PWI found in Romania. Cummins (2003) explain the opposite relationship – found in Australia - by the fact that domains with higher degree of specificity does not benefit of the psychological self-serving bias like ‘life as a whole’. The contrary result in the Romanian case (but similar with that of Algeria) may be a sign that there is a more complex relationship here.

12 Distribution by gender
Overall, no significant gender differences were found! Most plausible explanation: this is the single case where weighting of the file altered results: in original file, no difference was found. Differences in PWI & Life as a whole may be significant for a larger sample.

13 Distribution by age groups
For Life as a whole and Life in Romania, similar differences, but no statistically significant. Significant differences were found, but only for PWI and NWI. Overall, results opposed to those from Australia! Highest ratings of PWI are those of young peoples (18-34), lowest of older age (55+) For NWI, exactly the reversed distribution: young peoples were less satisfied. Confirm previous findings in Eastern European countries: older peoples were most affected by economic transition, while young peoples had the best resources to resist hardships. Tentative explanations (not exclusive!): Young peoples: 1. Have higher standards. 2. Had not got time to adapt their views to the circumstances. 3. Have lower social positions. 4. Have a culture of dissatisfaction with present establishment.

14 Distribution by educational status
Significant differences were found only for PWI and those with university credentials for Life as a whole. Educational status clearly discriminate between PWI levels, while only those with university credentials have significantly higher ratings for Life as a whole.

15 Distribution by marital status
As predicted in the literature, married peoples show highest levels of subjective wellbeing and also give highest ratings to PWI. Giving the small size of the sample, differences in wellbeing between married and non-married were not found to be significant. Differences in National Wellbeing were also found to be non-significant.

16 Distribution by quartiles of household income in equivalent adults
Equivalent adults, computed after National Statistics formula, helps to better approximate the real income of a household. Both PWI and Life as a whole increase significantly as household income grows from a quartile to another. For the National Wellbeing items, to be in the forth quartile makes a positive difference.

17 Discussion Findings confirmed those from all societies in general and from transition society in particular. In all cases, PWI is at least equally sensitive to socio-economic positions of individuals than “life as a whole”. In 2 cases, it is even more sensitive than “life as a whole”.

18 Psychometric proprieties: PWI
R square of the model is higher than in case of Australia Huge beta weight for Standard of living: 0.47 Consistent with literature about income in poor countries, although the magnitude is unexpected. All other items share small parts of subjective wellbeing variations. Health, safety and community connectedness does not contribute significantly to the dependent variable. Table 1. Regression of personal domains against Life as a whole

19 Psychometric proprieties: NWI
Same explanation as in the case of PWI. All other items share small parts of Life in Romania variation. Environment, Business and National Security does not contribute significantly to the variation of the dependent variable. Table 2. Regression of national domains against Life in Romania Similar beta weight for Economic situation: 0.43. R square of the model is also higher than in case of Australia.

20 Psychometric proprieties: Factorial structure
Both indexes items were introduced in a Principal Component Analysis. Results were rotated using Varimax method with Kaiser Normalization. Three factors emerged, but the third factor is weak (eigenvalue is around 1.05). When requesting the 2-factor solution, the results clearly dissociate National from Personal items. Table 3. Principal Component analysis of NWI and PWI items.

21 Discussion Both indexes show good psychometric proprieties also in the Romanian context. Standard of living and Economic situation items capture most part of variation in Life as a whole and Life in Romania, respectively. Thus, unlike in Australian case, one item is the most important predictor, and some items are explaining practically nothing. Question to be further answered: are some of items not important or their variation is simply obscured by the influence of the economic variables?

22 Conclusions Levels of subjective well-being in Romania:
Cannot be included in the “gold standard”. As expected: lower than first-world countries, higher than third-world. Higher ratings for personal relationships domains. Distributions by socio-demographical variables: In many cases different than in Australia. But very similar to other findings in post-communist countries.

23 Conclusions Indexes of well-being: Good psychometric proprieties.
Not all personal/national variables are predictors of PWI/NWI. Are there special items (not included) that fit post-communist transition countries? Theories Wellbeing homeostasis theory perform well on Romanian data. Some facts are still unexplained and should be further researched.

24 Reference list Bălţătescu, S. (2001). Quality of life in Romania. Paper presented at Euromodule Workshop, Wissensfchaft Zentrum Berlin. Bălţătescu, S. (2003). Stability of Happiness in a Changing Society: A Latent Growth Analysis on a Romanian Panel Data. Paper presented at the Fifth ISQOLS Conference, Frankfurt, Germany. Bălţătescu, S. (2004). Determinanţi ai satisfacţiei cu viaţa în perspectivă transsecţională. In C. Zamfir & E. Zamfir (Eds.), Starea societăţii româneşti. Volumul conferinţei anuale a Asociaţiei Române de Sociologie şi a Asociaţiei Române de Promovare a Asistenţei Sociale, Oradea, Ed. Universităţii din Oradea.  Brownlee, C., & O’Neill, G. (2003). Quality of Life in Ireland. St. Patrick's Festival Symposium. Cummins, R. A. (1998). The Second Approximation to an International Standard for Life Satisfaction. Social Indicators Research, 43. Cummins, R. A., Eckersley, R., Pallant, J., van Vugt, J., & Misajon, R. (2003). Developing a National Index of Subjective Wellbeing: The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index. Social Indicators Research, 64(2), Cummins, R. A., & Nistico, H. (2002). Maintaining Life Satisfaction: The Role of Positive Cognitive Bias. Journal of Happiness Studies, 3(1),

25 Reference list Delhey, J. (2004). Life satisfaction in an enlarged Europe. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Diener, E "Assessing Subjective Well-Being - Progress and Opportunities." Social Indicators Research 31: Graham, C., & Pettinato, S. (2002). Frustrated achievers: Winners, losers and subjective well-being in new market economies. Journal of Development Studies, 38(4), Hofstede, G. H. (2001). Culture's consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif. ; London: SAGE.  Mărginean, I. (1991). Percepţia calităţii vieţii - cadrul metodologic al cercetării. Calitatea Vieţii, 2(3-4), Mărginean, I. (2002). Calitatea vieţii percepute în România. In I. Mărginean & A. Bălaşa (Eds.), Calitatea vieţii in România (pp ). Bucureşti: Expert. Open Society Romania. ( ). Public Opinion Barometer. Bucharest.

26 Reference list Polce-Lynch, M., Myers, B. J., Kliewer, W., & Kilmartin, C. (2001). Adolescent self-esteem and gender: Exploring relations to sexual harassment, body image, media influence, and emotional expression. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 30(2), Saris, W., "What influences subjective well-being in Russia?" Journal of Happiness Studies 2: Tiliouine, H., Cummins, R. A., & Davern, M. (2004). Measuring Wellbeing in Developing Countries: The Case of Algeria. Paper to be presented at the International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies Conference, Philadelphia, 10 November 2004. Veenhoven, R. (1983). The Growing Impact of Marriage. Social Indicators Research, 12(1),

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