In the Print published article, the funding source was missed in the acknowledgements section. The correct acknowledgement is given in the paper.
This article presents evidence for a rising emancipatory spirit, across generations and around the world, in a life domain in which religion hitherto blocked emancipatory gains: sexual freedoms. We propose an explanation of rising emancipative values that integrates several approaches into a single idea—the utility ladder of freedoms. Specifically, we suggest that objectively improving living conditions—from rising life expectancies to broader education—transform the nature of life from a source of threats into a source of opportunities. As life begins to hold more promise for increasing population segments, societies climb the utility ladder of freedoms: practicing and respecting universal freedoms becomes increasingly vital to take advantage of rising life opportunities. This trend has begun to spill over into a life domain in which religious norms have until recently been able to resist emancipatory gains: sexual freedoms. We present (1) crossnational, (2) longitudinal, (3) generational and (4) multilevel evidence on an unprecedentedly broad basis in support of this theory.
Since three decades, scholars focus on generalized interpersonal trust as the key component of social capital and there is wide consensus that trust in strangers is the prime indicator of how general people’s trust in others is. However, little work with a specific focus on trust in strangers has been conducted in a comparative, multilevel framework. The few existing studies are inconclusive because of deficiencies in both conceptualization and test strategy. Filling this gap, this article examines the determinants of trust in strangers on the broadest country base ever used in the study of trust, drawing on global cross-cultural evidence from the fifth and sixth rounds of the World Values Surveys--the first international surveys to include a direct question on trust in strangers. Reaching beyond conventional wisdom about the sources of generalized trust, we demonstrate that human empowerment at the country level is a forceful moderator of well-known individual-level determinants of trust. Specifically, in countries with lagging human empowerment, institutional trust, trust in known people and material satisfaction are the only individual-level characteristics that enhance trust in strangers. We also detect an unexpected negative effect of education where human empowerment is lagging. In sharp contrast, in countries with advanced human empowerment, a much broader set of individual-level characteristics increases trust in strangers. This set includes ethnic tolerance, membership in voluntary associations, social movement activity, emancipative values, subjective well-being, age and education. These insights inform a multilevel theory of trust, showing that human empowerment operates as a contextual activator of individual trust promoters.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union experienced an unanticipated stagnation in the process of mortality reduction that was accelerating in the west. This was followed by even starker fluctuations and overall declines in life expectancy during the 1980s and 1990s. We identify statistically the extent to which, since the 1990s, the countries of the post-communist region have converged as a group towards other regional or cross-regional geopolitical blocks, or whether there are now multiple steady-states (‘convergence clubs’) emerging among these countries. We apply a complex convergence club methodology, including a recursive analysis, to data on 30 OECD countries (including 11 post-communist countries) drawn from the Human Mortality Database and spanning the period 1959–2010. We find that, rather than converging uniformly on western life expectancy levels, the post-communist countries have diverged into multiple clubs, with the lowest seemingly stuck in low-level equilibria, while the best performers (e.g. Czech Republic) show signs of catching-up with the leading OECD countries. As the post-communist period has progressed, the group of transition countries themselves has become more heterogeneous and it is noticeable that distinctive gender and age patterns have emerged. We are the first to employ an empirical convergence club methodology to help understand the complex long-run patterns of life expectancy within the post-communist region, one of very few papers to situate such an analysis in the context of the OECD countries, and one of relatively few to interpret the dynamics over the long-term.
This paper suggests a new and comprehensive approach to the assessment of the material well-being at the individual level by constructing a multidimensional index. Using this approach, material well-being is understood as a generic notion that covers a number of different domains, whereas the concept of domain is used to distinguish between different aspects of people’s resources, including income security, basic needs, durables, housing and subjective material well-being. Each dimension is measured independently, using the best indicators available, to generate a score or domain index for each aspect of material well-being. The procedure of re-weighting the indicators within the separate domains enables us to account for the disparity in resources and consumer preferences across different population subgroups. The final domain scores, combined with explicit weighting, are then used to generate a summary material well-being index. The domain indices and the summary material well-being index are validated by exploring their relationships to key socio-economic attributes, which were previously shown to be strongly associated with individual material well-being. The results showed that the summary indices of material well-being are characterized by greater differentiation in relation to such measures, as occupational class and judgments of satisfaction with one's life. This allows us to conclude that our summary indices capture the latent concept of material well-being better than any of our domain indices used separately. Although the index is constructed using the Russian Gender and Generation Survey data for 2007, the methodological approach that we applied can be easily replicated in other surveys which contain information on several aspects of material well-being.
The official method of measuring poverty in Russia is based on an absolute approach that uses an expertly calculated subsistence level as a poverty line. However, there is an ongoing debate about the possible use of other approaches to measuring poverty. This study focuses on identifying the relative ‘poverty line’ relevant to contemporary Russian society as a threshold of high poverty risk. Drawing on representative all-Russian surveys, the authors conclude that the relative poverty thresholds set at 0.5 and 0.75 times the median per capita family income identify different subgroups of the poor. A median threshold of 0.75 highlights poverty of the elderly, who are not considered to be poor by the absolute approach officially used in Russian statistics, but need attention in terms of social policy.
This paper clarifies the social and economic effects of employment in the informal sector on the poor in Russia in recent years. The article describes the extent to which the figures for informal sector at large and unofficial employment in particular vary in different estimates and the effect they have on the average labor income of the poor. The major impact of the research consists of the development of a universal method for the estimation of the scales of labor income of the poor in the informal sector. Using the latest available data from Russian Federal State Statistics Service, this indicator is calculated for the poor and than compared with average wages in the formal sector and the subsistence minimum (official poverty line). The study concludes that the informal sector is a factor of social stability in a postsocialist transition economy, which, however, cannot alleviate poverty.
National accounts of subjective well-being are being considered and adopted by nations. In order to be useful for policy deliberations, the measures of life satisfaction must be psychometrically sound. The reliability, validity, and sensitivity to change of life satisfaction measures are reviewed. The scales are stable under unchanging conditions, but are sensitive to changes in circumstances in people’s lives. Several types of data indicate that the scales validly reflect the quality of respondents’ lives: 1. Differences between nations in life satisfaction associated with differences in objective conditions, 2. Differences between groups who live in different circumstances, 3. Correlations with nonself-report measures of life satisfaction, 4. Genetic and physiological associations with life satisfaction, 5. Systematic patterns of change in the scales before, during, and after significant life events, and 6. Prediction by life satisfaction scores of future behaviors such as suicide. The life satisfaction scales can be influenced by factors such as question order, current mood, and mode of presentation, but in most cases these can be controlled. Our model of life satisfaction judgments points to the importance of attention, values, standards, and top-down effects. Although the scales are useful in research on individual well-being, there are policy questions that need more analysis and research, such as which types of subjective well-being measures are most relevant to which types of policies, how standards influence scores, and how best to associate the scores with current policy deliberations.