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|Key findings (%, weighted)
||FYR Macedonia||Average Transition region||Average Western Europe|
|Satisfied with life||33||43||72|
|Trust in others||21||34||42|
|Perceive less corruption than four years ago||25||21||9|
|Concerned about climate change||59||54||54|
|Support both market economy and democracy||33||34||42|
|Households affected by the crisis||57||49||31|
Nearly 60 per cent of households have been affected by the crisis. This is above the transition region average, even though the depth of the recession was lower than in most other countries. The impact has been smallest on older people, possibly because they have been less vulnerable to job losses. Upper-income households have also been less affected.
Satisfaction with life has risen over the last four years. There is a notable increase in the level of satisfaction among the over-60s and those on lower incomes, although the improvement among the latter category has been from a particularly low base. Overall, the percentage of satisfied people, at less than one-third, is still significantly below the transition region average.
There has been a significant rise in optimism since 2006. Nearly half of respondents think that their children will have a better life than themselves (up from around one-third in 2006), which is broadly comparable to the transition region average. The proportions do not vary much across age groups, but there is some variation by income level, with those at the upper end of the scale being the most optimistic.
A combination of democracy and a market economy is preferred to any other option. About one-third of respondents choose this socio-economic system over the alternatives, and there is little support for a return to authoritarianism or a planned economy. However, more than one-quarter express indifference to what type of system exists.
Few people believe that all of the important features of a stable democracy exist. Only about 20 per cent of respondents think that the country has law and order or a court system that defends individual rights against abuse by the state. Less than 30 per cent think that there are free and fair elections. However, about 50 per cent think that there is protection of minority rights, which is close to the average for western European comparators. In addition, about two-thirds of respondents feel that they have freedom to travel abroad.
The level of trust has risen, but remains among the lowest in the transition region. Only one-fifth of respondents think that people can be trusted. Younger people and those with higher than average incomes tend to be more trusting of others. The level of trust in a real-life situation is also rather low: just one-quarter of respondents said that they can expect to have their lost wallet returned.
Religious bodies, the police and the armed forces merit the highest level of trust among public institutions. Compared with 2006, there has been an increase in trust in financial institutions possibly reflecting the country’s relative insulation from the global economic crisis. Trust in political parties and the courts is at a very low level and has dropped marginally in both cases since 2006. However, trust in both the parliament and trade unions is up compared with 2006.
Perceived corruption has dropped significantly since 2006.
In general, the country has a low level of corruption in many public institutions, especially in terms of interaction with the traffic police or when requesting official documents from the authorities. However, about 15 per cent of people say that they have resorted to irregular payments in the health care system. The actual experience of corruption is also quite low: in all sectors, apart from the health care and unemployment benefit system, fewer than 10 per cent of respondents admit to bribing.
It is possible that networks substitute for bribery in public services. Over a half of respondents say that informal contacts are important in order to obtain official papers – close to the highest level in the surveyed countries. However, the overall level of satisfaction with public service delivery is now the third lowest in the region.
Extra spending on health care is considered the biggest priority. This is closely followed by investment in education and helping the poor. Other options for extra spending, including pensions, attract little support.
The Life in Transition Survey provides vivid evidence of precisely how lives have been affected by the global economic crisis and its aftermath.