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Life in Transition: Lithuania

Key findings (%, weighted)

Lithuania Average Transition region Average Western Europe
Satisfied with life 34 43 72
Trust in others 24 34 42
Perceive less corruption than four years ago 7 21 9
Concerned about climate change 60 54 54
Support both market economy and democracy 27 34 42
Households affected by the crisis 52 49 31

Impact of the crisis

  • The economic crisis has had a significant impact on the livelihoods of many Lithuanians. About one-half of households have been affected adversely, which is comparable to the transition region average. People in the lower-income brackets have been hit much more severely compared to the rest of the population. In addition, the impact has been more pronounced among the middle-aged.

Life satisfaction

  • Life satisfaction in Lithuania has dropped by 10 percentage points and fallen below the average for the transition region. All age and income brackets have registered a significant decline in satisfaction, especially the younger generation (aged 18-34) and the upper-income bracket of the population. This dissatisfaction may be a result of a deteriorating economic climate in the country. Lithuania is among three transition countries whose people least agree that the political and economic situation has improved over the last four years.

    Optimism in a better future for the younger generation has also dropped by 20 percentage points, but remains above the average transition region score. Optimism has fallen almost uniformly across age and income brackets, but most dramatically among middle-aged people and those in the lower-income bracket.

Attitudes towards democracy and market economy

  • About 27 per cent of respondents prefer a combination of democracy and a market economy over other political and economic systems. This is well above the percentage who prefer a combination of authoritarian government and a planned economy under some circumstances. As in the rest of the transition region, the vast majority of respondents (more than 90 per cent) would forego some political liberties to live in a country with robust economic growth. About one-half think that they live in a country with full political rights but weak growth.

    Belief in the existence of basic democratic institutions is moderate, but well below the average in western European comparator countries. About one-half of Lithuanian respondents agree that the country has basic democratic institutions such as freedom of speech, peace and stability and an independent press. Most also think that there is freedom to travel abroad. However, only a small percentage believe that the country has a strong opposition or a court system that defends the right of the individual against abuse by the state.

Generalised and institutional trust

  • People are reluctant to trust others. Generalised trust has decreased by more than five percentage points and is much lower than the transition average. Lithuanians are much more distrustful compared to their Baltic neighbours, and especially so towards people who they meet for the first time and those of different religions and nationalities.  

    Trust in public institutions is also relatively low and has decreased since 2006. While the level of trust in certain institutions – such as the presidency, banks and the financial system and foreign investors – is higher than the average for the western comparators, confidence in the government, parliament and the court system is very low and well below the western European average. The impact of the economic crisis has also led to a significant decline in trust in banks and the financial system.

Corruption perception

  • The level of perceived corruption is relatively low, but higher than the average for the western European comparators. Less than five per cent of respondents have reported making irregular payments when dealing with institutions such as the traffic police, civil courts, public education authorities or when applying for social security benefits. As in the rest of the transition region, the level of perceived corruption in much higher in the public health sector.    

Priorities for government spending

  • About 40 per cent of respondents would prefer extra government spending on public health care. This is much higher than the percentage who would prefer more spending on education, pensions or helping the poor. Lithuanians’ spending priorities closely match those in western European countries.

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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