What is Happiness for Russians?

Published Date:

According to the survey conducted by SPSU using a representative country sample, over three quarters (77.5%) of Russians consider themselves happy. The differences in assessment of happiness between men and women are not significant. However, age influence is evident: the older the respondent is, the less likely he/she thinks of himself/herself as of a happy person. An overwhelming majority (86.9%) of respondents 18-29 years old think of themselves as of happy people. Among those 60 years old and above, 65% of respondents consider themselves happy. At the same time, the number of respondents who refused to provide an answer increases with age. The survey shows that residents from rural settlements feel the happiest: 81% of these respondents report being happy. However, there is no clear pattern between the type of settlement and the way people think whether they are happy or unhappy. Fewer respondents who are happiest (74.1%) and more respondents who are the least happy (17.9%) reside in urban-type settlements and cities with population of less than 20 thousand people.

More than half (52,6%) believe happiness is love and having a good family (this is the most popular answer across all surveyed categories). Other two-fifths (39,5%) believe happiness is having children (this is the second popular answer among women and the third popular among men, ahead of material wealth). Thus, the three most significant components of happiness have not changed for all surveyed categories: love and good family, children and material wealth (37,6%) (except respondents aged 60 and above whose material wealth lags behind their health). When comparing answers of men and women accounting for their share among respondents, men are more likely to link happiness and freedom in making choices and decisions (8.4% of males versus 3.3% of females). This is followed by linking happiness and successful self-fulfillment (22.4% of males versus 15.4% of females) and opportunity to do what one loves (20.2% of males versus 15.9% of females). Women are more likely to think of happiness as of spiritual harmony and self-sufficiency (17.4% of females versus 11.5% of males) as well as of children (45.9% of females versus 31.8% of males). The sole strong link is found between age cohorts and health, with the link getting stronger as age increases: 23.2% of respondents aged 18-29 and 36.7% of respondents 60 years of age and older. The youngest age cohort shows stronger association between happiness and dream fulfillment (10.2%), while the eldest age cohort shows stronger association between happiness and attention and care of close people (14.4%).
Distribution of answers among residents of different types of settlements are practically identical except for self-fulfillment having a higher significance for residents of cities with population over a million people.
Finally, the most popular answers about what prevents people from being happy are unstable economic situation (31.2%), housing problems (26.4%) and problems with self-fulfillment (25.3%). Respondents aged 30-39 (25,2%) and those of 60 years old and older (27,7%) reported unstable economic situation as the least important thing that is in their way of being happy. Compared to their counterparts, more young respondents (36%) named housing problems and problems with self-fulfillment as things that prevents them happiness.

Question: “Do you consider yourself a happy person?” (closed question, one answer), %.

Варианты ответов Все опрошенные, %
Yes, I’m happy. 28,7
I’m rather happy, than unhappy. 48,7
I’m rather unhappy, than happy. 9,1
No, I’m not happy. 5,0
Refused to say 8,4

Question: “What is happiness for you?” (closed question, not to exceed three answers), %

Варианты ответов Все опрошенные, %
Love and good family 52,6
Children 39,5
Material wealth 37,6
My health and health of my relatives 30,2
Successful self-fulfillment 18,5
Opportunity to do what I love 17,8
Spiritual harmony, self-sufficiency 14,7
Friendship, good relations with people 13,3
Attention and care of relatives 10,4
Freedom in making a choice and decision 5,6
Ability to rejoice about small things 5,3
Dream fulfillment 5,2
Having different interests and hobbies 4,1
Other 1,2
Refused to say 2,3


Question: “What do you think prevents you from being happy?” (closed question, not to exceed three answers), %.

Варианты ответов Все опрошенные, %
Unstable economic situation 31,2
Housing problems – unavailable/bad housing 26,4
Problems with self-fulfillment 25,3
Health problems 17,2
Health problems of relatives/close people 14,8
Unstable political situation in the country 12,1
Family problems 10,5
Unpleasant social environment 5,8
Bad habits 5,4
Problems with personal life 4,9
Bad climate 3,2
Other 5,7
Refused to say 7,7
Nothing prevents me from being happy, I’m absolutely happy 14,0