Publications & Reports

Subjective well-being among young people in five Eastern European countries.

Lim MS, Cappa C, Patton GC
Burnet Institute, Centre for Population Health, 85 Commercial Road, Melbourne 3004, Australia.


Background: Subjective well-being incorporates elements of life satisfaction, happiness and optimism. It is increasingly relevant in the assessment of population health and economic development. There are strong continuities in well-being from youth into later life. Despite its significance, few global surveys capture subjective well-being. This paper describes patterns of well-being among young people in five Eastern European countries [Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine] and investigates association between demographic factors and well-being. Methods: Nationally representative household surveys, including large Roma population samples, were conducted as part of UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey programme. Young people aged 15-24 years (N = 11 944) indicated their satisfaction with life, happiness and expectations about the future. Multilevel logistic regressions were conducted to determine the impact of individual-level predictors while accounting for country- and cluster-level variability. Results: Around 40% of young people considered themselves very happy or very satisfied with their life overall. Three quarters reported optimism. Yet well-being varied greatly between countries, with youth in BiH and Ukraine reporting lowest levels of well-being. Current marriage, increasing wealth, higher education, rural residence and not having children were associated with greater well-being. Conclusions: Patterns of well-being in youth vary substantially between countries and are only partly accounted for by standard demographic characteristics. Despite higher rates of adolescent marriage and childbearing, and lower levels of educational attainment and employment, Roma youth had similar levels of well-being to the general population.

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MICS is an international household survey programme developed and funded by UNICEF. Data presented in this paper were collected as part of the fourth global round of the MICS programme (MICS4). MSCL received a Preventive Health Research Fellowship from the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. GCP is supported by an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship.


  • Journal: Global Mental Health
  • Published: 06/07/2017
  • Volume: 4
  • Pagination: e12