What is the PRICE of happiness in Russia?
Kira Lisitskaya (Photo: Legion Media)
We investigated how much money people in large Russian cities need to feel happy and what their dreams are for the future.
The average Russian man needs 203,000 rubles (≈ 2,640 USD) per month (after tax) to be happy, while a woman needs 155,000 rubles (≈ 2016 USD), almost a third less, according to the online recruitment portal SuperJob at the end of 2021.
It was only in 2017 that the literal price of happiness was higher: the average Russian then needed 184,000 rubles. (≈2,394 USD). Today’s average figure (for both men and women) is 178,000 rubles (≈ 2316 USD).
The higher the respondent’s salary, the more money they need to be happy.
The cost of living in Moscow means that Muscovites need more income to ensure their happiness: 228,000 rubles per month (≈2966 US$). Here’s what the Top 5 looks like:
How much money do you need to feel happy (monthly income):
1. Moscow: 228,000 rubles (≈ 2,966 USD)
2. Vladivostok: 204,000 rubles (≈2,654 USD)
3. Rostov-on-Don: 198,000 rubles (≈ 2,576 USD)
4. St. Petersburg: 192,000 rubles (≈2,498 USD)
5. Yekaterinburg: 186,000 rubles (≈ 2,420 USD)
As you can see, the second place belongs not to St. Petersburg, which is often called the second capital of Russia, but to Vladivostok. This city, located in the Far East of the country, far from European Russia, has high logistics costs and, therefore, high prices on many goods.
The financial needs of Russians increase with age, reaching a peak around 35-44 years old, before falling again.
Does money bring happiness ?
Despite a clear gap between the average salary (about 55,000 rubles (≈715 US dollars) in 2021) and the desired level of income, the majority of Russians (84%) consider themselves happy, according to a study by the Russian Center for Research on Public Opinion (VTsIOM). The most important thing for Russians is that they and their loved ones are healthy (29%). Feelings of happiness are also associated with having a family (27%) and children (22%), overall life satisfaction (21%) and having a good job (20%).
Those who do not feel satisfied cite the current situation in the country (8%), lack of material resources (7%), lack of stability (6%) and family problems (5%).
“Happiness is not directly related to income,” said sociologist Andrey Milekhin, president of research firm Romir and vice president of the association of polling agencies Gallup International. Expert magazine.
Also at the end of 2021, Gallup International and Romir compiled a global happiness index, which placed Russia in the Top 5 least happy countries in the world. 5% of Russians are very satisfied with their life, 36% are simply satisfied, 17% are dissatisfied, while 30% are “neither satisfied nor dissatisfied”. Only residents of Ghana, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Iraq consider themselves less happy.
“Russians, like most people around the world, traditionally compare themselves not to their neighbors, but to economically developed countries,” says Milekhin.
What do Russians dream of?
“I already own an apartment and a car. I don’t have to pay for the children’s education yet, so my dream is to be a space tourist. For this to happen in five years, at the current ticket price (450,000 USD), I will have to earn 600,000 rubles (≈ 7,800 USD) per month,” Ivan from Moscow shared with Russia Beyond.
For Elena from Saint Petersburg, the higher education of her children is essential: “My eldest son has already graduated from university and my daughter will enter this year,” she says. “We will soon know whether she will go to study in Saint Petersburg or Moscow. In the latter case, there will be accommodation and living expenses, as well as travel expenses to visit the house. It will be at least 40,000 rubles (≈ US$520) per month, assuming the course itself is free.
“Not so long ago I had the idea to sell my apartment in Vladivostok and move to Crimea. I can’t stand the Vladivostok climate anymore. So I thought about selling my apartment and building a house in the south; my budget is about 6 million rubles (≈78,000 dollars),” wrote a Vladivostok resident under the pseudonym Marutya on a forum. Due to natural decline and migration, the population of Vladivostok has steadily decreased in recent years. Residents themselves cite the low level of development in the city and the region as a whole, and the gap between wages and the cost of food and housing as the main reasons.
According to a VTsIOM survey in 2021, the most pressing need of Russians is health for themselves and their loved ones (9%). The second most frequent wish is to improve the living conditions of their family (8%). 5% still dream of traveling and 4% of improving their standard of living and their material well-being.
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