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Life in Transition: Kazakhstan

Key findings (%, weighted)

 
Kazakhstan Average Transition region Average Western Europe
Satisfied with life 52 43 72
Trust in others 57 34 42
Perceive less corruption than four years ago 23 21 9
Concerned about climate change 41 54 54
Support both market economy and democracy 34 34 42
Households affected by the crisis 33 49 31

Impact of the crisis

  • The crisis has spared most Kazakh households, with only 10 per cent reporting that they have been affected significantly. Two-thirds of respondents have been affected only slightly or not at all. The most common con-sequences of the crisis have been reduced or delayed wages and job losses. Many households report that they reduced consumption of both staples and luxury goods, but around one-fifth delayed paying utility bills which might be indicative of greater hardship.

Life satisfaction

  • Satisfaction with life has dropped slightly for middle-income households and people under 60. Kazakhstan nevertheless retains one of the higher satisfaction levels in the transition region. Despite slowing growth rates, the economy has not suffered a contraction over the past decade due to high oil prices. Over one-half of respondents believe that the economic and political situation in the country has improved since 2006, and 30 per cent say that the performance of local administration is also better.
    Almost two-thirds of surveyed respondents are optimistic about the future of the younger generation. While the belief in a better future for the younger generation has declined somewhat since 2006, it remains much higher than the average for the transition region. The younger generations and people in middle-income groups have the highest level of optimism.

Attitudes towards democracy and market economy

  • Although most people prefer democracy to other forms of government, about one-fifth of respondents say that an authoritarian system may be better under some circumstances. Around one-third of those surveyed prefer a planned economic system under some circumstances, indicating some scepticism toward market reforms. This is roughly the average for the transition region as a whole.


    Yet, there is only a moderate belief in the existence of some basic institutions in the country. One-half of respondents believe that that there are free and fair elections, law and order, an independent press and freedom of speech in their country and over 80 per cent agree that there is peace and stability; 27 per cent say that regional and local administration leaders should be appointed rather than elected.

Generalised and institutional trust

  • Trust in others is high and has increased. Over one-half of households report some, or complete, trust in others. Levels of generalised trust have particularly increased among the middle-aged population groups as well as among the lower and upper income segments of the population.


    Trust in most public institutions has fallen slightly, but confidence in the presidency – registered by almost 80 per cent of respondents – remains extremely high compared to other transition countries. Most indicators of in-group trust in the survey are in line with transition region averages: for example, around two-thirds of respondents say that they would turn to their relatives when in need.

Corruption perception

  • A slight increase in reported bribery since 2006 reflects rises in police, civil court and public health service corruption. About 62 per cent of respondents report bribing the police in the last year (half of whom were either asked to pay or were expected to pay). Two-fifths of respondents report dissatisfaction with the quality and efficiency of the police service and similarly think that bribery is common in public health care administration. Almost 40 per cent of respondents complain about long waiting times in hospitals, and 10 per cent claim that the most important factor for succeeding in life is political connections.

Priorities for government spending

  • Public health care is considered the biggest priority for government spending, reflecting respondents’ concerns over long waiting times and corruption. However, only one-half of respondents would be prepared to pay more in taxes to improve the health care system. The disabled, the elderly and families with children have been identified as the most deserving groups for government support. Two-fifths of respondents think that in-justice in society has led to more people needing support from the government. Despite low concern for climate change in comparison to other countries in the transition region, 30 per cent of respondents say that they would give up more of their income to tackle the problem.


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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