The proportion of Russians content with their lives has reached an all-time high of 81% this year, according to a survey conducted by Rosgosstrakh center for strategic research. This was an unexpected surge, after the number of "happy" Russians plummeted to 65% in regions hit by wildfires, and did not seem likely to rise again soon.
Now that the fires have been put out and the air is pure and smoke-free, the general level of satisfaction rapidly grew across the country. Surprisingly, this growth coincided with the onset of fall, although spring is traditionally a happier season. In fall and winter spirits usually go down along with air temperature.
This year, people's satisfaction dwindled in summer in regions hit hard by the abnormal heatwave, drought and wildfires. In early August, when Moscow was suffocating in thick smoke, the proportion of residents happy with their lives fell to 76% from 84% in May. Other regions hit by the natural disaster saw an even more drastic fall in public spirits. However, the average decline across Russia was a mere 1%, because fortunately, the area affected by wildfires was in fact rather small compared to Russia's vast expanses.
So what does the feeling of contentment depend on? Analysts believe general satisfaction is the result of meeting a certain social standard dominating the community.
"Most Russians' ideals of life quality were shaped back in the Soviet era and included their own apartment, a car, a dacha (summer house), a sofa set and a color TV. That level of prosperity had been exceeded by 2003. We have gone far ahead of the Soviets' notion of happiness," said Alexei Zubets, head of the Rosgosstrakh center for strategic research.
Moreover, around 15% of Russians match the international "middle class" standards with at least one car per family, their own house or apartment, access to healthcare and education other than the free services provided by government-subsidized institutions, and at least one vacation abroad or at a southern Russian resort per year.
What can we expect in the coming years? Will the level of general satisfaction close on 100% in Russia? Analysts do not believe there will be any significant growth or decline from the current level.
"On the one hand, we have reached a certain peak. After that, people will become more critical of their own goals and ambitions. On the other hand, the national economy is experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals. Therefore, those who are determined to work hard will find good jobs. That is, those who wish to earn a good living will be able to do so," Zubets said.
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