Georgians “almost happy” as dissatisfaction grows in key Eastern Partnership countries

Georgians “almost happy” as dissatisfaction grows in key Eastern Partnership countries

The FINANCIAL -- As with previous columns, this week I assess the mood of citizens in the Eastern Partnership countries, but with a particular focus on personal life. Two years and running, the EU Neighbourhood Barometer survey measures participant countries based on a number of indicators that are linked to people’s general satisfaction with life and economic aspects both on the personal level and global level.

Satisfaction with Personal life

Despite persistent economic uncertainty in the Eastern Partnership countries, levels of satisfaction with life in general have remained relatively unchanged through the four waves of the barometer. Forty-four percent (-2 percentage points since the spring 2013) of people is now satisfied and 54 percent (+2) dissatisfied with their lives.

A slight negative shift of opinion in this present wave may suggest that the long-lasting economic uncertainty has started to shape the general mood in the Eastern Partnership countries. We must point out that there is a major caveat: Data collection for the last wave of this survey was conducted in early 2014 and the worsening Ukrainian conflict will certainly have a significant influence on the moods of millions of people not only in Ukraine but in neighbouring countries. Consequently, we will only be able to present these shifts by the end of this year, when GORBI conducts a new wave of surveys in these counties. With this in mind, however, the current assessment is all the more important.

Through the four waves of the survey, Eastern Partnership countries have been divided into two camps: One contains countries with a majority of satisfied citizens and another - a majority of dissatisfied citizens. These groups have remained unchanged, suggesting that satisfaction with life is perhaps not so much dependent on the macro-level factors under scrutiny here.

Satisfied: Armenia (64%), Azerbaijan (62%), the Russian Federation (57%) and Belarus (50%);
Dissatisfied: Georgia (66%), Moldova (61%) and Ukraine (58%).

In the spring of 2013, we saw an overall negative trend in the Eastern Partnership countries. The results of this present survey show a more dispersed development:

In two countries with a negative shift in opinion in the spring of 2013, the trend is now the opposite: Moldova (+5 percentage points) and Azerbaijan (+3);

Belarus is the only country where the negative trend observed in the previous wave continues also in this present wave of the survey (-8).
In Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, changes have remained negligible in the last two waves of the survey.

In Russia, a peak in positive opinions was observed in the spring of 2013. In the last wave, the level of satisfaction has returned to the level seen prior to spring 2013 (-7). However, based on other survey results conducted in Russia, public attitudes towards similar indicators have dramatically increased, likely due to intensified state propaganda.

The overall dispersed developments between the Eastern Partnership countries and within any given country through the four waves of the survey suggest that general life satisfaction is a relatively volatile indicator and may largely depend on very country-specific events and developments.


Table 1. On the whole, are you very satisfied, fairly satisfied, not very satisfied or not at all satisfied with the life you lead?

 

Total Satisfied

Difference

Aut. 2012 – Sp. Win. 2013-2014

Total not satisfied

Difference

Aut. 2012 – Sp. Win. 2013-2014

Don’t know

Difference

Aut. 2012 – Sp. Win. 2013-2014

ENPI East

44

-2

54

+2

2

+1

Moldova

38

+5

61

-4

1

-1

Azerbaijan

62

+3

38

-3

1

+1

Georgia

33

+2

66

-3

0

=

Armenia

64

+1

36

=

0

-1

Ukraine

40

-3

58

+3

2

=

Belarus

50

-8

46

+9

1

-1

Russia

57

-7

39

+5

5

+3

 

Source: ENPI barometer nationwide surveys. Note: numbers are given in percentages.

Finally, as seen in the previous waves of the survey, the following respondent characteristics appear to influence satisfaction levels:

Age: the younger the respondents are, the more satisfied they tend to be;
Socio-economic situation: respondents who position themselves towards the top of the social scale and who report fewer difficulties with paying bills at the end of the month express considerably higher levels of satisfaction;
State of democracy in the country: respondents who believe that democracy works well in their country are more satisfied with the life they lead.

For Georgians, among these three most important variables, the socio-economic situation carries a much higher weight in determining satisfaction with personal life. In particular, large scale unemployment, and the resulting economic hardship on the family or personal level, continues to be the Achilles heel for those running the country.   

Data is based on the EU Neighbourhood Barometer, conducted on behalf of the European Commission’s Development and Cooperation Office, Europe Aid (Unit F4). As part of a larger consortium, GORBI led the data collection in all countries except Russia.All 7 surveys were conducted on a national representative sample of 1,000 respondents or more; data retains a 3% margin of error, with confidence at 95%.Please do not visit our site ( www.gorbi.com ); it is under construction.