Everything is relative in life

Belarusian State University sociologists conduct online monitoring of public perceptions of socio-economic and political situation
Belarusian State University sociologists conduct online monitoring of public perceptions of socio-economic and political situation

A BSU survey from last year showed an improvement in Belarusian families’ perceptions of their material welfare, explains the Director of the Centre for Sociological and Political Research, Prof. David Rotman. In 2014, almost one family in four (23.1 percent) felt provided with enough money to lead quite a comfortable life. Just 20 years ago, the figure stood at less than 3 percent. Almost half of all families (46.3 percent) felt they could eat and dress well while 1.3 percent underlined that they felt able to make expensive purchases (such as a new car or flat). In 1994, more than half of Belarusian families (57.6 percent) reported failing to purchase even essential foodstuffs (against last year’s 3.3 percent).


MT’S COMMENT:


Over 70 percent of families in Belarus don’t feel that they are experiencing significant material problems. Recent economic difficulties have been beyond national control, since our export-oriented economy is greatly dependent on external factors. Negative trends on world markets, and among our major trade partners, naturally, affect our economic situation.

Nevertheless, we are in a much better position than in the mid-1990s, when even simple foods such as sugar, milk, meat, butter and cereals were rationed. Today’s young people have no awareness of such a situation, but many of us can recall queuing to buy food, clothes and footwear. Salaries (of $20-30 per month equivalent) were always delayed, and people sometimes lacked even the money to pay for public transport. Those were troubled times. However, the country withstood them and learnt the importance of ‘pulling together’. We may still find reasons to complain about life, and wish to see our living standards improve further, but there is no comparison with life two decades ago.  Last year alone, Belarusians bought 135,400 cars: there are over 300 vehicles per 1,000 Belarusians. The number of appliances per household is also rising (see diagram).

Long-term use items in households
per 100 households, by unit


By Victoria Kozlova

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