Crime and subjective well-being in the countries of the former Soviet Union


Criminal victimisation and subjective well-being have both been linked to health outcomes, although as yet, comparatively little is known about the relationship between these two phenomena. In this study we used data from nine countries of the former Soviet Union (fSU) to examine the association between different types of crime and subjective well-being.


Data were obtained from 18,000 individuals aged 18 and above collected during the Health in Times of Transition (HITT) survey in 2010/11 in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Ukraine. Information was obtained on respondents’ experience of crime (violence and theft) and self-reported affective (happiness) and cognitive (life satisfaction) well-being. Ordered probit and ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analyses were undertaken to examine the associations between these variables.


In pooled country analyses, experiencing violence was associated with significantly lower happiness and life satisfaction. Theft victimisation was associated with significantly reduced life satisfaction but not happiness. Among the individual countries, there was a more pronounced association between violent victimisation and reduced happiness in Kazakhstan and Moldova.


The finding that criminal victimisation is linked to lower levels of subjective well-being highlights the importance of reducing crime in the fSU, and also of having effective support services in place for victims of crime to reduce its detrimental effects on health and well-being.