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Life in Transition: Bulgaria

Key findings (%, weighted)

 
Bulgaria Average Transition region Average Western Europe
Satisfied with life 33 43 72
Trust in others 29 34 42
Perceive less corruption than four years ago 23 21 9
Concerned about climate change 61 54 54
Support both market economy and democracy 32 34 42
Households affected by the crisis 75 49 31

Impact of the crisis

  • The perceived impact of the economic crisis on Bulgarians was very high. It hit around 75 per cent of house-holds – about 26 percentage points more than the transition region average – and particularly the poorer ones. Almost 85 per cent of people in the lower-income bracket were affected adversely, compared to only about 60 per cent of the richest third.

Life satisfaction

  • Despite a slight increase in happiness since 2006, satisfaction with life in Bulgaria remains almost 10 per cent below the transition region average. Life satisfaction in the middle-income bracket has dropped by 12 percent-age points, but increased by almost nine per cent among the richest sector of the population. This has created a 25 percentage point difference in happiness between groups that were previously roughly equally satisfied with their lives. Life satisfaction in the over-60s category has risen to almost one-third, and is now similar to that among 40-59-year-olds.


    Optimism for the future has risen above the transition region average. The proportion of people who believe that their children will have better lives than themselves has increased by almost 10 percentage points to just over half of the total. Optimism has especially increased among people in the upper-income group, who are now slightly more positive than those in the middle-income category.

Attitudes towards democracy and market economy

  • Democracy with a market economy is the most popular socio-economic option. This level of support has remained stable since 2006. Just under 40 per cent of respondents prefer a market economy to any other economic system and about 46 per cent choose democracy over other political systems.


    Most respondents recognise the presence of two basic democratic freedoms – protection of minority rights and freedom to travel abroad – in Bulgaria. More than one-half also consider that freedom of speech and peace and stability exist. On the other hand, fewer than 15 per cent believe that their country has a court system that protects individual rights again abuse by the state. Only one-fifth think that there is effective law and order or a strong political opposition.

Generalised and institutional trust

  • Irregular payments have decreased since 2006 across all institutions. They are most prevalent in the public health sector according to 17 per cent of respondents (a seven per cent fall from 2006), while 13 per cent be-lieve that the traffic police are also significant recipients (a fall of one-third since 2006). These percentages are well above the corresponding figures in the western European comparator countries.

Corruption perception

  • Irregular payments have decreased since 2006 across all institutions. They are most prevalent in the public health sector according to 17 per cent of respondents (a seven per cent fall from 2006), while 13 per cent be-lieve that the traffic police are also significant recipients (a fall of one-third since 2006). These percentages are well above the corresponding figures in the western European comparator countries.

Priorities for government spending

  • Public health care deserves the government’s priority attention according to well over half of respondents. Almost one-fifth believe that the government should channel extra funding towards education and around 15 per cent think more funding should go into pensions. There is relatively little public support for helping the poor as a top priority, and even less so for more government finance for housing, the environment or public infrastructure.


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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