My research to date follows two clear lines of scientific inquiry: (i) the economics of well-being and (ii) economics of transition. The first research agenda is about the health and well-being consequences of migration, labor market arrangements, and entrepreneurship. The second line of research focuses on the historical and contemporary determinants of socio-economic developments in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

These lines of research have been highly productive, as evidenced by the current pipeline and publications in highly-ranked peer review journals and the citations they have attracted.  For example, RePEc ranks me no. 601 out of 14,947 of female economists worldwide, and top 8% among all female and male economists.

Below is a list of recent publications. You can also view my working papers on my IZA profile page. My Google Scholar citations are also available.


Nikolova, M., Cnossen, F. What makes work meaningful and why economists should care about itLabour Economics, 101847. doi:

Ivlevs, A., Nikolova, M., & Popova. O. (2020) Communist Party Membership and Entrepreneurship. Small Business Economics,

Nikolova, M., Nikolaev, B., & Popova, O. (2020) The Perceived Well-being and Health Costs of Exiting Self-Employment. Small Business Economics, forthcoming.

Nikolova, M. (2019). Switching to self-employment can be good for your health. Journal of Business Venturing, 34(4), 664-691. GLO Discussion Paper Version. 

Ivlevs, A. Nikolova, M., and Graham, C. (2019). Emigration, remittances, and psychological well-being of those staying behind Journal of Population Economics, 32(1), 113-151. IZA Discussion Paper Version.

Nikolova, M. and Nikolaev, B. Family matters: the effects of parental unemployment in early childhood and adolescence on subjective well-being later in life Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (2018, forthcoming). GLO Working Paper Version.

Nikolova, M. and Ayhan, S. (2019). Your spouse is fired! How much do you care? Journal of Population Economics, 32(3), 799-844. IZA Discussion Paper Version.  Podcast Episode 

Nikolova, M., Roman, M., and Zimmermann, K.F. (2017). Left Behind but Doing Good? Civic Engagement and the Left Behind in Two Post-Socialist Countries. Journal of Comparative Economics, 45(3), 658-684. IZA Discussion Paper Version.

Nikolova, E. and Nikolova, M. (2017). Suffrage, labour markets and coalitions in colonial Virginia. European Journal of Political Economy, 49, 108-122. IZA Discussion Paper VersionAppendix 

Nikolova, M. (2016). Minding the Happiness Gap: Political Institutions and Perceived Quality of Life in TransitionEuropean Journal of Political Economy, 45, Supplement, 129-148. IZA Discussion Paper Version. 

Nikolova, M. and Nikolaev, B. (2016, in press). Does Joining the EU Make You Happy? Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe.  Journal of Happiness Studies. IZA Discussion Paper Version.

Nikolova, M. Migrant well-being after leaving transition economies. IZA World of Labor 2015: 195 doi: 10.15185/izawol.195

Nikolova, M., & Graham, C. (2015). In transit: The Well-being of Migrants from Transition and Post-transition Countries. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 112, 164-186. IZA Discussion Paper Version.

Graham, C. and Nikolova, M. (2015). Bentham or Aristotle in the Development Process? An Empirical Investigation of Capabilities and Subjective Well-being. World Development, 68(0), 163-179. IZA Discussion Paper Version.

Nikolova, M. (2015). Government Funding of Private Voluntary Organizations Is There a Crowding-Out Effect?. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 44(3), 487-509.

Nikolova, M. and Graham, C. (2014). Employment, Late-Life Work, Retirement, and Well-being in Europe and the United States. IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, 3(5), 1-30.

Nikolova, M. (2014). Principals and Agents: An Investigation of Executive Compensation in Human Service Nonprofits. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 25(3), 679-706.

Graham, C., and Nikolova, M. (2013). Does Access to Information Technology Make People Happier? Insights from Well-Being Surveys from around the World. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 44, 126-139. Brookings Working Paper Version.

Book Chapters

Nikolova M., Graham C. (2020) The Economics of Happiness. In: Zimmermann K.F. (eds) Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics. Springer, Cham.

Nikolova, M. (2018). Happiness: Using subjective well-being metrics to gauge development. In J. Drydyk & L. Keleher (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Development Ethics (pp. 84-92). New York, NY: Routledge. IZA Discussion Paper version.

DeVita, C. J, Nikolova, M., and Roeger, K. L. (2014) Nonprofit Advocacy in the Nation’s Capital. In Pekkanen, R., Smith, S. R., & Tsujinaka, Y. (Eds.), Nonprofits and Advocacy (pp. 85-106). Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Boris, E. T., Marronick, M. and Nikolova, M. (2014) Shaping the Government-Nonprofit Partnership: Direct and Indirect Advocacy. In Pekkanen, R., Smith, S. R. & Tsujinaka, Y. (Eds.), Nonprofits and Advocacy (pp. 66-84). Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Research Reports and Briefs

Graham, C. and Nikolova, M. Happiness and International Migration in Latin America. World Happiness Report 2018, Chapter 5

Chapter 1.2 in the Randstad Report People to Jobs or Jobs to People?

Boris, E. T., Leon, E., Roeger, K. L., and Nikolova, M. (2010). Human Service Nonprofits and Government Collaboration: Findings from the 2010 National Survey of Nonprofit Government Contracting and Grants. (Research Report). Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.

Boris, E. T., Leon, E., Roeger, K. L., and Nikolova, M. (2010). National Study of Nonprofit-Government Contracting: State Profiles. (Research Report). Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.

Boris, E. T., Leon, E., Roeger, K. L., and Nikolova, M. (2010). Contracts and Grants between Human Service Nonprofits and Governments. (Research Brief). Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.