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Life in Transition: Romania

Key findings (%, weighted)

Romania Average Transition region Average Western Europe
Satisfied with life 18 43 72
Trust in others 27 34 42
Perceive less corruption than four years ago 10 21 9
Concerned about climate change 54 54 54
Support both market economy and democracy 28 34 42
Households affected by the crisis 62 49 31

Impact of the crisis

  • Almost two-thirds of households have been impacted by the economic crisis, one of the highest proportions among transition countries. The crisis has hurt over 70 per cent of the middle-aged population, and also affected over two-thirds of the lower-income group. On the other hand, the over-60s have felt the impact the least, with less than one-half reporting an effect.

Life satisfaction

  • Life satisfaction in Romania is the lowest in the entire transition region, according to this survey. Romanians were already unhappy relative to the transition region average in 2006. Since then their life satisfaction has decreased by a further 15 percentage points. The youngest age group used to be about twice as happy as their older countrymen. However, this group’s life satisfaction has fallen by 25 percentage points and the population is now roughly equally unhappy across all age ranges. Satisfaction with life in the lower-income group has declined the least.


    At the same time, optimism for the future has more than halved since 2006. Only about one-fifth of Romanians believe that their children will do better than their own generation, despite their significant unhappiness with their own lives. This proportion is now comparable to the average proportion of western European comparator countries who think that their children will have better lives than they themselves have had.

Attitudes towards democracy and market economy

  • Support for a market economy is at the lower end of the transition region scale. Just over one-third of respondents claim to prefer a market economy to any other economic system. That percentage has fallen by almost 10 points since 2006. Attitudes towards democracy have fared better, as the percentage of people who unequivocally support it has only declined by seven points since 2006 to 43 per cent. The combination of democracy and a market economy is still the most popular economic and political option.


    Romanians do not believe that certain basic democratic characteristics exist in their country. Only 27 per cent of respondents think they have free and fair elections and only 23 per cent believe the country has law and order. Less than one-fifth consider that the court system protects individuals against abuse by the state. Collectively these percentages are 40 points or more below western European comparator averages.

Generalised and institutional trust

  • The level of trust in other people remains well below the transition region average, despite an increase since 2006. Trust fell slightly among the lower- and middle-income groups, but rose among upper-income respondents by 13 percentage points. This implies a much stronger positive correlation between trust and income level than before.


    Trust in public institutions has decreased variably across the board. Trust among respondents in the presidency has fallen markedly to only 14 per cent. The proportion of people trusting other political offices also recorded decreases (of around two-thirds) from their already low 2006 levels – only seven per cent have confidence in the government or parliament and less than five per cent trust political parties. Religious institutions have retained the greatest level of trust by a wide margin, despite a 20 percentage point fall since 2006. Trust in foreign investors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has been the most stable.

Corruption perception

  • Irregular payments in the health care sector are particularly high. Over 43 per cent of respondents believe that such payments are common, a rise of 13 percentage points since 2006. The traffic police are the second most problematic sector, with almost 12 per cent of the population believing irregular payments are an issue. Some other public services have seen slight decreases in corruption since 2006, but levels remain well above western European comparator averages.

Priorities for government spending

  • Half of respondents want the government to prioritise additional spending on health care. One-quarter would have their government focus on education and 12 per cent want increased pensions.

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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