This paper uses panel data from Russia to identify “residual” happiness levels that are not explained by the usual demographic and socioeconomic determinants of happiness. We then test whether our residual happiness variable has causal properties in addition to those of the observed demographic and socioeconomic variables on future income. We find that both residual happiness and positive expectations for the future in the initial period are positively correlated with higher income in future periods. People with negative perceptions of their own progress and with higher fear of unemployment increase their incomes less, on average. Psychologists attribute stability in happiness levels over time — analogous to the “residual” happiness levels that we identify — to positive cognitive bias, such as self-esteem, control, and optimism. The same factors may enhance individuals’ performance in the labor market.
What’s next for the war(s) in Syria?
Today’s sanctions were predictable after the Mueller indictment, which identified specific Russians involved with the troll factory...However, these individuals are small fish. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the so-called ‘Putin’s chef’ in charge of the Internet Research Agency, was already on the U.S. sanctions list for his activities in Ukraine. The administration deserves credit for following through on their promise to impose new sanctions, but much more still needs to be done to realistically deter Russia.
It’s a good move by the administration to impose sanctions...but it’s still not enough to respond to growing Russian aggression.