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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
This article reveals that, despite Russian regions being very different from each other when it comes to a great many socio-economic and socio-cultural properties (population income level and living standards, various features of the socio-cultural environment, social optimism, degree of religiosity and so on), those who live in regions far removed from the capital cities, given their lower level of personal income, tend to be more satisfied with their lives and demonstrate a higher level of social wellbeing, according to data from various sociological surveys. Based on empirical data, the authors argue that material aspects are not the only factors which affect subjective wellbeing in any given region. The goal of the study is to analyze the differentiation in the level of subjective wellbeing of the population of various Russian regions, which implies identifying and comparatively analyzing those factors which help interpret these differences. The primary research method is regression analysis of data from sociological surveys conducted in 2012 using the World Values Survey method in nine regions and towns of federal significance: Moscow, Saint- Petersburg, Leningrad Province, Tambov, Tatarstan Republic, Chuvashia Republic, the Altai Krai, Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, Bashkortostan Republic. The analysis showed that there is indeed a connection between one’s personal income level and their subjective wellbeing, while there is no such connection between one’s subjective wellbeing and how wealthy their region is. This could be explained by the fact that people are more concerned with their personal income level than their region’s income. Aside from income level, there are other factors which determine subjective wellbeing in any given region. Moscow is considered to be the wealthiest region, however, it also has the highest level of income inequality. Both individual income and income level in comparison to the reference group considerably affect respondents’ subjective wellbeing, regardless of their region of residence. However, individual income has a stronger influence. That said it is in Moscow where subjective evaluation of one’s income level and satisfaction with one’s material status affect subjective wellbeing to the greatest extent, which is due to the fact that in Moscow both living standards and one’s sense of subjective inequality are somewhat higher. The influence of other socio-demographic factors also varies from region to region. For the most part this study confirms Ronald Inglehart’s concept of material factors playing a significant role in subjective wellbeing.
Subjective well-being, life satisfaction, regional differences, Russian regions, World Values Survey, relative income, reference group income
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