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Life in Transition: Kyrgyz Republic

Key findings (%, weighted)

Kyrgyz Republic Average Transition region Average Western Europe
Satisfied with life 50 43 72
Trust in others 26 34 42
Perceive less corruption than four years ago 6 21 9
Concerned about climate change 41 54 54
Support both market economy and democracy 34 34 42
Households affected by the crisis 28 49 31

Impact of the crisis

  • Less than half of Kyrgyz say that the crisis has not affected them at all. Around 45 per cent of households say that reduced remittances and wages have been the dominant consequences. This may reflect the fact that the economic downturn in Russia, which hosts many Kyrgyz migrant workers, exacerbated the impact on households in the Kyrgyz Republic. The vast majority of households have cut down their consumption of staple and luxury goods in the past two years.

Life satisfaction

  • Levels of life satisfaction are higher than the transition average, although they have dropped since 2006. About two-fifths of Kyrgyz respondents do not think that they have fared better in life than their parents, but about the same proportion think that their household lives better today than in 2006. Only one-third is satisfied with their jobs and less than 40 per cent feel financially secure. Four-fifths of respondents do not think that the economic or political situation has improved in recent years.

    While the belief in a better future of the younger generation is comparable to the transition region average, it has significantly dropped since 2006. This belief is particularly pronounced among the younger generation and those in the middle and upper income segments of the Kyrgyz population.

Attitudes towards democracy and market economy

  • Although one-third of respondents prefer democracy and a market economy, around 25 per cent would rather live, under some circumstances, in an authoritarian system and planned economy. Only 60 per cent believe that elections are necessary to choose political leaders – among the lowest support for elections in the transition region. Just one-fifth say that they would prefer a country with more political liberties and lower economic growth to a country with higher growth and fewer liberties.

    Respondents are sceptical about the existence of basic democratic institutions. A majority of respondents do not think that their country has free and fair elections or law and order. However, few are apathetic about the style of government and most believe that its form will affect them: one-fifth believe that citizens should be more active in questioning the actions of the authorities.

Generalised and institutional trust

  • The level of generalised trust has seen a small increase among lower- and middle-income households. While the average trust in people has slightly decreased since 2006, it remains well below the average for the entire transition region. In addition to middle- and upper-income segments of the population, older people seem to have more generalised trust.

    However, trust in governmental institutions has collapsed since 2006. The Kyrgyz Republic now ranks in the bottom 10 of transition countries for trust in the presidency and government. This may be a consequence of violent riots in the capital, which brought down the government in April 2010 and were followed by ethnic unrest in the south of the country. On the other hand, over 95 per cent of respondents have complete trust in the family, although two-thirds say that they would not trust people who they meet for the first time.

Corruption perception

  • Levels of bribery have doubled across all sectors in the last four years. The perception of corruption in the country is among the worst in the transition region. A majority of households report that they are dissatisfied with the service that they receive from traffic police and bureaucratic officials. In most instances, respondents were asked for payment or knew that this was expected of them. Corruption is also endemic in the health care sector and in public education, although few households have ever filed a complaint.

Priorities for government spending

  • The preferences of Kyrgyz households for government spending generally coincide with those in western European comparator countries. There is slightly lower support for health care provision and more for helping the poor. Only two-fifths of households are prepared to give up more of their income in order to improve health care or education, which would appear to reflect concerns about corruption. At the same time, around 30 per cent of respondents say that those in need find themselves in their predicament because of laziness and lack of willpower.

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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