From March 11th to April 6th, the BAW surveyed 1,075 people over 18 years old (age and sex are comprehensively represented) from all regions and all types of Belarusian settlements using the “face-to-face” method. People were asked how they assess the economic situation in the country and in their families. According to the author of the research, sociologist Andrei Vardamatski, the perception of the economic well-being has fallen to a record low for the last two decades.
According to the research results, the majority of Belarusians – 62% – believe that the economic situation in Belarus deteriorated between February and April. Only 26% of respondents believed so during a similar study, conducted by the BAW on the New Year eve.
While in December 2019, only 38% of respondents assessed the situation in Belarus as bad, between March and April their share increased to 61%.
Andrei Vardamatski, Head of the Belarusian Analytical Workshop, told Belsat that this is the greatest leap in the economic well-being perception in the history of measurements, i.e. for more than 20 years.
“This kind of drop in the well-being perception has never been witnessed before, be it during the protests of “socail parasites,” during the default of 2008, or during the crisis of 2011,” says Vardamatski.
The newest data clearly demonstrate that Belarusians assess their personal situation as being better than the situation in the country in general. While the overall situation was labelled “bad” by 2/3 of respondents, only 1/3 of the respondents assessed his family situation as bad. While 55% of respondents assessed their personal economic situation as “average”, only 34% of people characterized the situation in the country along those lines.
The sociologist explains this by the individual psychological characteristics of people and the existence of two “parallel societies” in the country.
“Every person thinks about it like this: “The situation in the country is bad, but I am an energetic, intelligent person, as well as a good organizer and manager. I can work 24/7 doing several jobs”. In other words, people tend to believe that they are able to overcome the bad situation at the macro level. This happens in other countries as well, but in Belarus it is manifested in significant and extraordinary degree. This phenomenon of “parallel societies,” which exist in Belarus, explains well why Belarusians are so patient,” continues Vardamatski.
According to the expert, a great role in reducing the assessment of the economic perception and well-being of Belarusians was played by the official and independent media (albeit by different methods), as well as the long silence of the state authorities regarding assistance to business and people.
“The state-owned mass media had nothing to say about the state aid, as it took a long time to prepared. In this case the vacuum was filled with fears. The non-state media showed the lack of decision making regarding this issue and compared the situations in Belarus with those in the countries where decisions to provide support were made instantly. The combination of these two different trends had a cumulative declining effect,” continues Vardamatski.
According to the study, more than half of the Belarusian families do not believe that their economic situation has somehow changed. Only four out of ten respondents admitted that their families now live worse than they used to.
Only 2.3% of respondents called the economic situation in the country “good”, while almost the same number believes that their families have recently started to live better. Over 6% of the respondents rated the personal situation as “good”. Only one percent of Belarusians believe that the country has recently become a better place to live.
“In any crisis, there are groups that come on top in difficult times. For example, those who develop communication equipment are now overwhelmed with work. The owners of these companies become millionaires overnight. There are several such groups, but this is not something to analyze as this information is within the sampling error,” says the sociologist.
The researcher notes that the survey began even before the epidemic hit the country and ended even before the spike in the number of infected people became evident. On the other hand, this was the last opportunity for sociologists to conduct this survey, as it’s now difficult to do so due to the epidemic,” Vardamatski adds.