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|Key findings (%, weighted)
||Azerbaijan||Average Transition region||Average Western Europe|
|Satisfied with life||42||43||72|
|Trust in others||24||34||42|
|Perceive less corruption than four years ago||18||21||9|
|Concerned about climate change||73||54||54|
|Support both market economy and democracy||50||34||42|
|Households affected by the crisis||55||49||31|
The global economic crisis has had a significant impact on livelihoods. About 55 per cent of households report being affected adversely, which is above the transition region average, and those in the lower-income brackets have been hit hardest.
Life satisfaction has improved since 2006 and is comparable to the transition region average. More than 40 per cent of respondents are satisfied with life. While the percentage has risen across different age and income brackets, the improvement has been most apparent among the middle class. This could reflect a perceived up-turn in the economic and political climate; over half of respondents think that the socio-economic situation is better than in 2006.
More than one-half of respondents believe that today’s children will have a better life than the preceding generation. The level of optimism has risen among most age and income brackets and compares well with the transition region average. However, people over the age of 60 and those in the upper-income bracket tend to be less optimistic about the future of the younger generation.
Fifty per cent of respondents prefer a combination of democracy and a market economy over other political and economic systems. In contrast, less than 10 per cent favour, under some circumstances, authoritarian government with a planned economy. About two-thirds would be willing to sacrifice some political liberties for strong economic growth. However, respondents differ in their assessments of their country’s economic and political model: one-third think that they live in a country with full political liberties and robust economic growth, while one-quarter believe that they enjoy few liberties but strong growth and a further quarter think that there are few liberties and weak growth.
About one-half of respondents consider that Azerbaijan has some of the basic democratic institutions. How-ever, belief in their effectiveness and independence, particularly the political opposition and the media, is relatively low and much lower than in the western European comparator countries.
People are reluctant to trust others. Only about one-quarter of respondents consider that people can generally be trusted, ranking Azerbaijan 22nd out of 28 in this respect among the transition countries. Those surveyed are especially wary of people on the first meeting and a significant proportion also shows some distrust of those of different nationalities and religions.
Trust in public institutions remains relatively high and well above levels in the western European comparator countries. More than half of respondents have trust in their national institutions, particularly the presidency and the armed forces.
The level of perceived corruption is the highest across all sectors in the transition region. Azerbaijan has simultaneously experienced the largest increase in perceived corruption and the largest fall in satisfaction in public services across all surveyed countries. Only 18 per cent of respondents think that corruption has de-creased since 2006. More than half report having made irregular payments when dealing with public authorities. This practice is common across most sectors, but more so in the public health system. In several sectors, such as road police, bureaucracy and courts, around three-quarters of those making unofficial payments said that they were asked or expected to bribe. Interestingly, less than one-fifth of respondents consider it important to have personal contacts to obtain official papers, which suggests that bribing and informal networks might be acting as substitutes. There does not seem to be evidence of relaxed attitudes towards corruption as only about three per cent of respondents think that there is nothing wrong if a public official asks for a favour or gift in return for a service.
Further expenditures on education, health care and helping the poor are seen as the main priorities by the majority of respondents. However, despite this concern for the poor, Azerbaijan ranks last among the transition countries in its commitment to reducing the gap between rich and poor and second to last in its support for in-come equality.
The Life in Transition Survey provides vivid evidence of precisely how lives have been affected by the global economic crisis and its aftermath.