Milena is an Assistant Professor at Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen.

She received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland – College Park in 2014. Her research focuses on subjective well-being, migration, civil society and nonprofits, and transition economies.

Milena was a Research Associate at IZA from September 2014 to December 2017. She is also a Nonresident Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Milena Nikolova became an IZA Fellow in January 2018.



IZA Discussion Paper No. 10774
Milena Nikolova, Olga Popova

Despite the burgeoning happiness economics literature, scholars have largely ignored explorations of how individuals or countries translate given resources into well-being. Using a balanced panel on 91 countries from Gallup Analytics between 2009–2014 and borrowing insights from production theory, we investigate whether nations in our sample efficiently convert their current...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10411

This study is the first to provide a causal estimate of the subjective well-being effects of spousal unemployment at the couple level. Using German panel data on married and cohabiting partners for 1991-2013 and information on exogenous job termination induced by workplace closure, we show that spousal unemployment reduces the...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10226
published in: European Journal of Political Economy [Link] [Online Appendix]

We study Virginia's suffrage from the early 17th century until the American Revolution using an analytical narrative and econometric analysis of unique data on franchise restrictions. First, we hold that suffrage changes reflected labour market dynamics. Indeed, Virginia’s liberal institutions initially served to attract indentured servants from England needed in...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10088

Subjective well-being (SWB) indicators, such as positive and negative emotions, life evaluations, and assessments of having purpose and meaning and life are increasingly used alongside income, employment, and consumption measures to provide a more comprehensive view of human progress. SWB measures have several advantages but also challenges which development scholars...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9636
published in: Journal of Happiness Studies [Online]

We examine the effect of joining the European Union on individual life satisfaction in Bulgaria and Romania in the context of the 2007 EU enlargement. Although EU membership is among the most important events in Bulgaria and Romania's modern histories, there is no evidence on how it affected the subjective...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9540
published in: Journal of Comparative Economics [Online]

The fall of socialism in Central and Eastern Europe restored ordinary citizens' rights and freedoms and ended their political and social isolation. While the freedom of movement was quickly embraced, civil society revival lagged due to the eroded civic norms, declining social capital, and worsening economic conditions. In this paper,...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9484
published in: European Journal of Political Economy [Online]

Along with political and economic changes, the fall of the socialist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union brought about fundamental institutional reforms. Several studies have examined the causes of the increasing unhappiness which accompanied the transition process, including deteriorating public goods, rising inequality, income volatility,...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 8722
published in: World Development [Online]

Life evaluations and emotional states are distinct subjective well-being (SWB) components. We explore the relationship between opportunities and SWB dimensions, distinguishing between actual capabilities and means (education, employment, and income) and perceived opportunities (autonomy and health perceptions and belief in hard work). We find a link between capabilities and SWB...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 8520
published in: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2015, 112, 164-186 [Online]

The extant literature has focused on migration's consequences for the receiving countries. In this paper, we ask a different but important question: how much do migrants gain from moving to another country? Using Gallup World Poll data and a methodology combining statistical matching with difference-in-differences, we assess migration's effects on...