CRRC: Unemployment remains the most important issue in Armenia

Lilit Muradyan

Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) have released the results of the Caucasus Barometer 2012 survey, the latest iteration of the annual survey measuring social-economic, demographic and political developments in the South Caucasus republics since 2004.

This year, over 6000 households were randomly selected and surveyed throughout the South Caucasus. Each questionnaire included over 100 questions to provide an exclusive opportunity to follow the public opinion and the level of well-being in each country, with analysis possible by gender, settlement type, age, and a host of other variables.

There were several trends noticed this year that could have important implications for both Armenia and the region. For the third year in a row, unemployment and poverty were listed as the two most important issues in Armenia (46% and 16%) and in Georgia (51% and 11%). Unsolved territorial conflicts (45%), followed by unemployment (21%) were rated as the most important issues in Azerbaijan.

Armenians are still more likely to feel that they have the right to say what they want (70%) than Georgians or Azerbaijanis (66% and 49%, respectively). However, there was a worrying jump from 2011 to 2012 in the share of respondents in Armenia that said the country was not a democracy (from 18% to 28%).

Although respondents in all three countries had serious concerns, overall happiness remained quite high: on average, on a scale from 1 to 10, Armenians rated their happiness at 6.7, Georgians – 6.8, and Azerbaijanis- 6.1.

New in the 2012 survey are questions posed to respondents in all three countries and Russia regarding the public opinion of Joseph Stalin. When asked to select what word best describes your attitude towards Stalin, Armenians primarily selected “indifference” (25%), Georgians selected “respect” (27%),while 22% of Azerbaijanis said they do not know who Stalin is. Although a majority of people in Armenia (55%) and Georgia (68%) believe that Stalin was a wise ruler who brought power and prosperity to the Soviet Union, a vast majority in all three countries (72% in Armenia, 73% in Azerbaijan, and 63% in Georgia) would not like to live and work in a country ruled by someone like Stalin.

The 2012 survey also had new questions solely for Armenia on the Genocide and Armenian-Turkish relations. When asked about opening the border with Turkey nearly half of respondents (49%) believed it would be beneficial to the economy, while almost an equal share (47%) believed that it would harm national security.

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