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Life in Transition: Hungary

Key findings (%, weighted)

 
Hungary Average Transition region Average Western Europe
Satisfied with life 29 43 72
Trust in others 25 34 42
Perceive less corruption than four years ago 15 21 9
Concerned about climate change 62 54 54
Support both market economy and democracy 28 34 42
Households affected by the crisis 66 49 31

Impact of the crisis

  • Hungary has the third highest proportion of households to have been impacted by the crisis in the transition region. More than two-thirds have been affected adversely, which is almost 20 per cent more than the transition region average. The poorest sections of the population have been hit the hardest, as have middle-aged people and, to a lesser extent, the over-60s.

Life satisfaction

  • Life satisfaction in Hungary is among the lowest in the transition region. It has fallen seven percentage points (from an already low base in 2006) to 18 per cent, which is below one-half of the transition average. The youngest section of the population has seen the largest drop in satisfaction. There is a positive correlation be-tween happiness and higher income, with just seven per cent of the poorest third of the population reporting satisfaction with their lives.


    Optimism for the future remains very low at only just above one-half the transition region average. Hungary is among the small group of transition countries where people are not only dissatisfied with their own lives but do not believe that their children face a better future. Since 2006, optimism has declined among the middle class but risen in the richest third of the population.

Attitudes towards democracy and market economy

  • Hungarian support for a market economy is among the lowest in the transition region. Only 30 per cent of respondents unequivocally support a market economy, a decrease of seven percentage points since 2006. Attitudes towards democracy are more positive, with over one-half preferring it to any other political system. Yet even this figure is eight per cent lower than in 2006. Nevertheless, the combination of a market economy and democracy is still the most popular socio-economic option in Hungary, as in the most of the transition region.


    Fewer people believe that Hungary has democratic institutions comparable to those in the western European comparator countries. The lag behind the western countries ranges from 14 percentage points for freedom to travel abroad to 30 percentage points for law and order and a court system that defends individual rights against abuse by the state. In addition, only 31 per cent of respondents believe that there is a strong political opposition in the country.

Generalised and institutional trust

  • The level of generalised trust is low at eight points below the transition region average. Trust has risen mainly among the upper-income group and least among the poorest since 2006, implying a strong correlation between wealth and trust. Trust in others has only decreased in the 40-59 age group.


    Trust in most public institutions, with the exception of the government and parliament, has decreased significantly since 2006. In fact, trust in the government is five percentage points above the western European comparator average after nearly doubling since 2006. On the other hand, confidence in the police force has dropped by more than 20 per cent, while trust in banks has more than halved to 10 percentage points below the western comparator average (probably reflecting the economic crisis).

Corruption perception

  • Over 40 per cent of Hungarians believe that irregular payments are common in the public health care system. This is a high figure relative to the western European comparator average of three per cent and an increase of 10 percentage points since 2006. The health care sector clearly stands out from other public services in this respect, since irregular payments to traffic police are considered the next most common incidence of bribery according to only 10 per cent of respondents.

Priorities for government spending

  • Hungarians list education as only the fourth most important government spending priority. This may be be-cause they believe that their education system is already of a very high quality, but only 13 per cent think that it should receive additional funding as a priority, compared to 40 per cent favouring of health care, almost 20 per cent for pensions and nearly 15 per cent for helping the poor.


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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