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Life in Transition: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Key findings (%, weighted)

Bosnia and Herzegovina Average Transition region Average Western Europe
Satisfied with life 32 43 72
Trust in others 33 34 42
Perceive less corruption than four years ago 9 21 9
Concerned about climate change 53 54 54
Support both market economy and democracy 29 34 42
Households affected by the crisis 61 49 31

Impact of the crisis

  • The crisis has affected more than 60 per cent of households. This compares with a transition region average of about 50 per cent. The impact appears to be more or less the same across age groups, and has been particularly severe on lower-income groups.

Life satisfaction

  • Life satisfaction remains low, despite rising slightly since 2006. Less than one-third of respondents are satisfied with life, compared with 43 per cent in the transition region as a whole. However, satisfaction has risen marginally across all age and income groups and is highest among younger people and upper-income groups.

    There is a low degree of optimism about the prospects for future generations. The percentage of those who think future generations will have a better life than at present has changed little since 2006 and, at about 35 per cent, is well below the transition region average. This pessimism is particularly marked among middle-aged people and those on lower incomes.

Attitudes towards democracy and market economy

  • Support for democracy and a market economy is rather limited. Almost 29 per cent of respondents support this combination, which is about the same percentage as those who do not favour either option. However, only about 15 per cent would prefer, under some circumstances, a combination of authoritarian government and a planned economy.

    Few people believe that many of the basic democratic institutions exist in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Less than one-quarter of respondents think that there is law and order or a court system that defends individual rights against abuse by the state. Even fewer think that there is freedom to travel abroad, no doubt reflecting the visa requirements still in place during the LiTS on Bosnian nationals visiting the EU Schengen zone (which have since been relaxed). However, 40 per cent believe that freedom of speech is respected in the country.

Generalised and institutional trust

  • There has been a significant increase in trust over the past four years. About one-third of respondents think that people can generally be trusted, which is nearly double the response in 2006 and close to the transition region average. Trust in people is especially strong among the upper-income groups, but shows little variation across ages.

    Trust in public and private institutions varies significantly. Religious institutions and the police tend to be the most trusted institutions. Banks and the financial system are also trusted and show the biggest increase since 2006. This may reflect the fact that the financial sector has been relatively resilient throughout the economic crisis, aided by strong support from foreign parent banks and international financial institutions through the “Vienna Initiative” agreement. Political parties, parliament and the government attract the lowest levels of trust.

Corruption perception

  • Very few people think that corruption has fallen since 2006. Less than 10 per cent of respondents agree that there is less corruption relative to four years ago, ranking the country near the bottom of the transition region scale in that respect. However, the level of irregular payments to most public institutions is generally quite low and has improved notably since 2006 in relation to the traffic police. On the other hand, corruption in the pub-lic health system is perceived to have risen, with more than 20 per cent of respondents declaring that such payments have been made in the past year.

Priorities for government spending

  • Health care is the biggest priority for extra government spending. Many respondents believe that helping the poor is also a priority. Strong support for more expenditure on pensions probably reflects the high number of pensioners, of various categories, in the country.

Full report

  • The Life in Transition Survey provides vivid evidence of precisely how lives have been affected by the global economic crisis and its aftermath.

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