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The general objective of the project is to analyse the quality of life in Romania over the entire transition period 1990-2010, in a European comparative perspective and with emphasis on highlighting the social inequalities that were born and deepened during the twenty year period. This would be the first attempt to understand such an extensive period in the social history of the country with the main use of quality of life data. It will enable a unique view of peoples’ lives and society development in the recent past. Monitoring social change is a major goal of social research mostly undertaken in this field by the Eurobarometer series and EQLS. However, images of peoples’ lives and societies are currently only partial due to data gathering limitations (data available on a limited number of years, changing in indicators, in questions format etc). Moreover, no work so far concentrated on one country in a comparative perspective as an exemplary case of transformation country. This project will allow a comprehensive view of Romanian society mostly viewed through the eyes of its citizens and complemented with information on social structures.

The specific objectives of the project are:

1. To analyse each major domain of quality of life: standard of living, education, health, work, family, subjective well being, housing, leisure, quality of society. Currently, an extensive literature concentrates on life spheres, their specific importance and their relative contribution to quality of life. The project will build on existing experience and literature trying to understand the specific situation of Romania in time and in comparison to other European countries. We will try to answer questions like: Why standard of living is still the major contributor to quality of life in Romania and not in other similar countries, like Bulgaria? (Sandu, 2008) What does the data say about the social development of the country? Why quality of society continues to remain one of the weakest dimensions of quality of life? (Marginean et al, 2006)

2. To explain quality of life in relation to structural conditions of Romanian society: consolidation of democracy, corruption, institutional quality. The project will use statistical data and social reporting data to correlate with quality of life. The project will use a unique approach, starting with quality of life as experienced by people (using subjective data) and will go more in depth by explaining every aspect in relation to societal, structural aspects of quality of life.

3. To compare quality of life in Romania to that in Eastern and Western European countries. While comparisons have been the focus of literature especially during the past ten years, analysis either remained at the level of main aspects of quality of life (Marginean et al. 2006) or only included Romania in larger groups of countries (Alber et al. 2007) while leaving unexplained the key phenomena that triggered the specific setup of the quality of life in the country. The project will try to compare Romania with meaningful groups of countries (to be established during research) both Eastern and Western European countries, while emphasizing the explanatory component of similarities and differences.

4. To analyse social inequalities in each domain of life (standard of living, education, health, work, family, subjective well being, housing, leisure, quality of society) and highlight vulnerable groups. Literature so far drew attention to the existence of inequalities and the steady trend of deepening inequalities mainly in regard to incomes but also in what regards education, health, housing and even leisure. Romania has a particular setup of inequalities in comparison to other countries (Marginean et al. 2006, Marginean and Precupetu, 2008). The project will concentrate on this specific setup trying to understand the key set of connections in this regard.

5. To analyse security/insecurity aspects of quality of life. The concepts of security/insecurity are relatively new in the quality of life field and refers mainly to the job dimension. However, lately, discussions in the scientific community converged towards the idea that security could comprise more than one dimension, including incomes, job, and housing. The recent crisis brought up the issue of people feeling secure about their general standards of living. A certain precariousness of living conditions characterizes some social groups as they move in and out of poverty. In Romania, the many changes during the past twenty years impacted heavily on large social groups by creating an obvious condition of precariousness and insecurity about their life circumstances. The project explores this idea by trying to analyse the existence of such a distinctive dimension of quality of life based on existing indicators. The idea is very new and was not explored as such in social science and brings an innovation component to the project.

6. To create an index of global quality of life that makes possible comparisons over time, taking into consideration the experience in the field. The index will be constructed with the purpose of testing it and discussing it in the scientific community before considering it as a reliable measure that can be used in assessing quality of life and monitoring change. While it is still debated in the literature if such an index is possible and meaningful, we will try to test it carefully while building on existing experiences.

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