Open letter to Putin (president of Russia during 2022 war with Ukraine)

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Dear Mr Putin,

We assume that you are concerned with the happiness of the Russian people. In that context we suggest to consider the following results from scientific research, available in the World Database of Happiness.

Average happiness rose in Russia after you took office in 1999 and was nearing the level in the European Union. 

We expect a strong decline of happiness for the Russian population if you continue the war in Ukraine, for the following reasons.

  • Russian happiness will decline when the material standard of living falls as a result of international sanctions and the cost of war.
  • Russian happiness will also decline when the war presses to further restrictions in freedom in the country.
  • A military victory will not offer a remedy, since national pride does not increase happiness very much, while the likely continuation in a civil war with guerilla and terrorism will certainly decrease Russian happiness.
  • A restauration of the Russian empire will not add to happiness either, because people live happier in smaller countries. On the rank list of average happiness in nations the USA ranks 46th and below most western nations, while China (60th) and Russia (101th) rank below the world average. Enlarging Russia will not result in happier Russians.

The decline in Russian happiness will also have indirect consequences to be considered.

We expect no decline in average happiness in the European Union, but foresee a pause in the rising trend. Happiness wise, war is a losing game; even if you are on the site with the best arms.

Happiness may not be everything, but should not be ignored.


Dr.  Ad Bergsma  and prof. dr. Ruut Veenhoven
Happiness researchers

(A graph added to this letter connot be reproduced here)



Foreseen decline of happiness in Russia due to the war and its consequences on health, economy and support for the political system

Period22 Mar 2022

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