Land and happiness: Land distribution and subjective well-being in Moldova

B.G.M. van Landeghem*, J. Swinnen, L. Vranken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The distribution of land rights is an important economic and political issue, and it played a central role in the transition process in Europe and Asia. This paper analyzes the impact of the distribution of land on household welfare by using subjective well-being data from a rural household survey in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe. The recent land reform in Moldova provides a natural experiment on the impact of land ownership distribution on subjective well-being. We find that household land holdings have a positive effect on subjective well-being, but neighbors' average land holdings have a negative effect on subjective well-being. People, regardless of the land distribution and even given the relatively low living standards of these households, rate their welfare by looking at how much other people possess.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-85
Number of pages25
JournalEastern European Economics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013



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