Äripäev, Toomas Hõbemägi
Estonia will today unveil its new human development report whose key finding is that in the last ten years, the share of population who feel excluded from the society has not decreased.
Other conclusions include that the nation lacks economic wellbeing and that recovery from the economic crisis has increased public discontent and gaps between different population groups, writes Eesti Päevaleht.
According to the report, the level of social exclusion is now at 25%, or about the same as it was in 2004.
The report defines social exclusion as the sense of powerlessness and disappointment caused by social problems (poor income, below-average living conditions, lack of social interaction, etc.) resulting in the person stopping to participate in the society either partially or fully.
After the end of the economic crisis, the share of those who were discontent, had no confidence in institutions and had financial problems increased.
The main risk group in this respect are elderly, people with lower education level, people without work and Russian-speakers.
PEOPLE LOSING BELIEF IN THEMSELVES, FUTURE – TERK
Erik Terk, Professor of Tallinn University and one of the authors of the report, says that although in average people’s income, pensions and benefits have increased, the picture is different in individual social layers.
„By average indicators we have done well in recovering from the economic crisis, but the picture is different if you look at family incomes. The income of single parents or families with multiple children is critically low. Sociologists say that social exclusion in some population groups has actually increased. This also means that more people are losing belief in themselves, in the state or in the future,“ said Terk.
He added that according to survey results, this has increased after Estonia emerged from the crisis.
„During the crisis, we felt that we have all to make an effort to avoid the worst from happening. Let’s work hard, suffer and recover from the crisis together. Once we left the crisis behind, we started to find excluded and alone. This is when many started to lose faith,“ he said.
FIRST-WORLD ESTONIA – EDITORIAL
Eesti Päevaleht writes in its editorial that although Estonians feel mostly inadequate because we compare ourselves with the Western standards, we should keep in mind that none of the former Soviet Union country has reached such high average income as us.
Although at times people say that it’s destiny to be born into Estonia, we are actually one of the most developed countries in the world.
Yes, poverty in Estonia is not what poverty is in Scandinavian countries. But it’s not what poverty is in Ukraine which paid its pensioners 100 euros a month, half of which was spent on communal costs.
In Balkan countries, mass immigration of young people is much more intense than in Estonia. Or take Belarus which is socially secure, but politically repressive.
But we must ask ourselves tough questions, also because lack of future prospect has a bigger depressing effect than momentary poverty.
Estonia’s advantage is relatively low corruption that gives people confidence that gamerules are mainly honest.
We also have democracy at work, media is free and we can criticise whoever we like. So, in short we are rich.