What makes a Society Successful?

Lamont, Michele

Following the fall of the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, many people expected life
spans in these countries to increase as new freedoms and opportunities became available.
Subsequently, male life expectancy in the Czech Republic increased to 72 years by 2001, but
dropped to barely 59 years in Russia. That is a difference of thirteen years of life, on average, per
man. You would not see that kind of discrepancy between two societies, even if one had a cure for
cancer and the other did not. What do these findings mean? Do they reflect the difference between
a successful and a less successful society? Does it even make sense to compare societies in terms of
their relative success? Below I discuss the work of social scientists who came to be convinced that
we should take this question seriously.

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Also Published In

Perspectives On Europe

More About This Work

Academic Units
Council for European Studies
Published Here
November 3, 2016