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Life in Transition: Russia

Key findings (%, weighted)

Russia Average Transition region Average Western Europe
Satisfied with life 43 43 72
Trust in others 50 34 42
Perceive less corruption than four years ago 10 21 9
Concerned about climate change 48 54 54
Support both market economy and democracy 21 34 42
Households affected by the crisis 33 49 31

Impact of the crisis

  • The impact of the global recession on Russian households has been mild. About one-third of respondents report that they have been adversely affected, which is 16 percentage points lower than the transition average. Middle-aged people and lower-income groups have been hit harder compared to other sections of the population.

Life satisfaction

  • Russian satisfaction with life is virtually unchanged since 2006 and, at 43 per cent of respondents, is comparable to the average for the transition region. The younger generation is less content, but the level of satisfaction has improved significantly among the over-60s age range. All income brackets have registered a slight decrease in life satisfaction.


    The belief that future generations will have a better life has also remained almost unchanged at just over 50 per cent, and is similarly comparable to the transition average. The level of optimism has stayed about the same across the different income brackets of the population, but increased among the over-60s age group who have suffered the most during the transition period.

Attitudes towards democracy and market economy

  • Only 21 per cent of respondents prefer a combination of market economy and democracy, which is considerably lower than the transition average. This is a comparable percentage to those who favour the combination of a planned economy and authoritarianism under some circumstances. As in the rest of the transition region, the majority of respondents would trade strong economic growth for fewer few political liberties. More than one-half of respondents believe that they live in a country with few political liberties and weak economic growth.


    Only about one-third of respondents think that Russia has some of the basic institutions of democracy, such as free and fair elections or peace and stability. Fewer than one-quarter of Russian respondents believe that their country has law and order, a strong political opposition, a courts system that defends individual rights against abuse by the state, or protection of minority rights. However, 85 per cent think that there is full freedom to travel abroad.

Generalised and institutional trust

  • The level of generalised trust has increased since 2006. One-half of respondents think that people can be trusted, a rise of 16 percentage points since 2006. While the level of trust has risen across different age and income brackets, it has most noticeably increased among the middle-aged, older and upper-income groups.


    Confidence in public institutions is relatively low, although it has increased since 2006. The presidency, the government and the armed forces enjoy the greatest trust among respondents. While relatively low, trust in banks and financial institutions has increased since 2006.

Corruption perception

  • The level of perceived corruption has been falling since 2006. However, it is still higher than the average for the western European comparator countries. In certain areas of the public sector, corruption is still considered a problem – more than 10 per cent of respondents believe that the use of irregular payments is the norm when dealing with the traffic police, civil courts, public education authorities or public health system. Nevertheless, the majority of Russians disapprove of corruption, as only 15 per cent think that there is nothing seriously wrong with public officials asking for payment in return for services.

Priorities for government spending

  • Health care is perceived as the biggest priority for extra expenditure. Almost one-third of respondents think that there should be additional investment in the public health system. Education – and, to a lesser extent, housing, pensions and helping the poor – are also seen as important spending target areas. The sympathetic attitude towards the poor could reflect generally egalitarian values in Russia – almost 50 per cent of respondents think that incomes should be more equitable.

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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