Euro adoption and crisis in Ukraine reduced Lithuanians’ optimism, according to poll

According to the poll carried out by pollster Baltijos Tyrimai on 12-22 December 2014, which was commissioned by ELTA news agency, Lithuanians were not in the most jubilant moods. 33 percent of the polled were sure than the situation in Lithuania was turning for the best, but twice as many, 66 percent, said it was turning for the worst. Although pessimism in previous months fluctuated by 1-3 percent upwards or downwards, yet in December it jumped up by 6 percent. The number of optimists also fell by 6 percent.

Commenting on the change of such outlook sociologist Lazutka said that people’s opinions were affected by the imminent introduction of the euro and the situation in eastern Ukraine, which has direct economic effects on Russian and Lithuanian economies.

“People were probably more concerned and had more fears related to the euro adoption. People feared and still fear that prices would rise. Although there were many discussions, talks and reassurance from the government, people still in essence do not rely on this,” the professor said. According to Statistics Lithuania, which monitors prices of 100 homogenous consumer goods and services, in the first two weeks of January 2015 compared with December 2014, prices of 46 goods and services increased, 34 decreased while 16 remained the same.

The number of respondents, who believed that the situation in Lithuania was improving, decreased by 12 percent, from 45 percent in December 2013 to 33 percent a year later. Meanwhile, the number of pessimists increased by 13 percent, from 53 percent in December 2013 to 66 percent in December 2014. Respondents younger than 30 years old, students and schoolchildren as well as resident of cities were much more positive about the situation in Lithuania.

Prof Lazutka says such tendencies are not surprising. A part of people showing a positive outlook have higher education, are directors, specialists or public servants and receive higher than average salaries. Another part of such respondents are students and schoolchildren, who Lazutka says have not encountered the difficulties of life and are completely or partially sustained by their parents.

“Even respondents aged younger than 35 indicated that some of their income came from “private support”, which most likely was from parents. There is still a strong tendency in Lithuania to support children, partially sacrificing one’s own well-being, The “unlucky” part of young people often emigrate, whereas those who have not done so perhaps have a more positive outlook towards the future as they now there is such an option”.

The most negative opinion about the situation in Lithuania was expressed by respondents aged over 50 years old, residents of rural areas, people with monthly household income below EUR 434, pensioners, labourers and ethnic minorities.

According to Lazutka, Lithuanians will need some time to adjust to the euro and the “visually lower” income and prices. However, people’s outlook on the situation in the country might be improved by the falling prices of oil and other energy resources.

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