selfWelcome to my website! I am Boris N. Nikolaev, PhD. I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Oxford College of Emory University. Currently, I teach courses in Macroeconomics [syllabus], Intermediate Microeconomics, and the Economics of Happiness [syllabus]. My research interests are in the areas of economic development, subjective well-being, new institutional economics, political economy and the economics of education. On this webpage you will find information about my research, teaching, and a little more.

My current research specializes in examining the role of good governance (and political institutions) in promoting quality of life through policies that foster economic development. An important question here is what do we mean by well-being or quality of life (and how do we measure it)? Traditionally, economists have used more objective measures such as national (and personal) income, unemployment, crime rates, and life expectancy. But in recent years, there has been a shift in economic thinking (although still not widely accepted) that has emphasized the importance of how people feel about their lives, or their subjective well-being. While I think that traditional indicators of economic prosperity are still the most important gauge of economic prosperity, I also believe that subjective well-being data reveal important information about quality of life that shouldn’t be ignored. Thus, I use some alternative measures for quality of life. Broadly speaking, the first set of measures is based on the psychological notion of subjective well-being. These measures include concepts like life satisfaction (or life evaluation) but also short term hedonic experiences such as joy, anger, depression, etc. The second set of measures is based on the philosophical notion of “capabilities” — objective measures of income, education, safety, environmental quality, health, and community.

I am also interested in economic freedom and the political institutions that define it. Some of the questions that my research explores include: What is the effect of economic freedom on income inequality, productive and non-productive entrepreneurship, and does economic freedom lead to higher level of subjective well-being.

Outside of academia I spend time with my family, travel, take lots (and I mean lots) of pictures, and enjoy every opportunity to be outdoors. I am also a big soccer fan.

RESEARCH INTERESTS: New Institutional Economics, Public Choice, Subjective Well-being and Life Satisfaction, Development Economics, The Economics of Education.


– Living with Mom and Dad and Loving It…or Are You? Journal of Economic Psychology (forthcoming) [download here]
– (with Ainslee Burns) Inter-generational Mobility and Subjective Well-being – Evidence from the General Social Survey. Journal of Behavioral & Experimental Economics. 53 (1) 2014: 82-96 [download here]
– Using Experiments and Media to Introduce Game Theory Into the Principles Classroom. Journal of Private Enterprise and Education. 29 (2) 2014: 149-160 [download here]
– Economic Freedom and Quality of Life – Evidence from the OECD’s Your Better Life Index. Journal of Private Enterprise and Education. 29 (3) 2014: 1-31 [download here]
– (with Joshua Hall, John Pulito, and Benjamin VanMetre) The Eff ect of Personal and Economic Freedom on Entrepreneurial Activity: Evidence from a New State Level Freedom Index. American Journal of Entrepreneurship. 6(1) 2013: 85-99


– Rising Income Inequality and Economic Growth—Are Americans Better Off?—Evidence from Subjective Well-Being Data. [download here]
– (with Daniel Bennett) Give Me Liberty and Give Me Control: Economic Freedom and Control Perceptions [download here]
– (with Daniel Bennett) On the Ambiguous Economic Freedom-Inequality Relationship [download here]
– Does Other People’s Education Make Us Less Happy? [download here]
– (with Daniel Bennett) Factor Endowments, The Rule of Law & Structural Inequality: Testing the Engerman-Sokoloff Hypothesis [download here]
– (with Daniel Bennett) Economic Freedom and Emotional Well-Being [download here]
– (with Milena Nikolova) Saving Habits and Happiness: Evidence from Panel Data [download here]
– (with Pavel Rusakov) Education and Happiness: An Alternative Hypothesis [download here]
– (with Milena Nikolova) Does Joining the EU Make You Happy? [download here]
– (with Daniel Bennett) Do Institutions of Capitalism Promote More Equal Distribution of Happiness? [download here]