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No happiness in Georgia24.12.2012 | 18:19
Inhabitants of Armenia and Georgia are the most miserable in the world. This is evidenced by the results of a study conducted by Gallup Company. The list of the happiest countries is led by Paraguay and Panama. Russia has taken the 118 position of 148 countries. Singapore closes the list; the second lowest is Armenia; Georgia is on the fourth line from the bottom. GTimes correspondent wondered what was the reason for such pessimistic mood among the people from Caucasian countries. Experts differed in opinion.
The head of the Tbilisi Center for Social Research Marina Muskhelishvili accepts the ranking data in the fact that happiness of citizens of the country does not depend on their economic situation. "According to my research, people feel happy when they feel the unity and solidarity in the society. This has more to do with the settlement and regulation of social relations, stability in this area, rather than with any economic factors", Muskhelishvili explains in an interview with to the GTimes. "In this regard, in Georgia the situation is hard. Polarization in society is obvious, a lot of negativity comes from TV - all of this affects the mood of the people in the country".
At the same time, the Georgian sociologist calls not to "absolutize" the research data since there are other similar ratings, in which Georgia is not among the outsiders. She adds that today the situation is changing for the better in political terms, although "in society there remains a sense of tension and anxiety that is caused by the fact that the previous government is actually trying to keep doing what they did in recent years".
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Public Movement "Multinational Georgia" Arnold Stepanyan accounts the pessimism among the Georgians and Armenians for the socio-economic situation in these countries. "I do not quite understand how you can measure the happiness index", Stepanyan says in an interview to the GTimes. "But as for the complex issues capable affect the mood of the people of the region, they lie in the social and economic dimensions. In these areas neither Georgia nor Armenia can boast of their achievements. Much of the population in these countries lives in poverty. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons for their dissatisfaction with their situation".
At the same time, Stepanyan believes that Georgia has more opportunities to rise in the ranking. "Georgia is now in a state of transition", the expert says. "For the new government social and economic issues are a priority. If they manage to fulfill the promise to at least 50 percent, I think Georgia no longer takes the fourth place from the bottom. And in my opinion, Armenia has no such prospects capable affect the mood of the population. Judging by the policy of the ruling political group in Armenia, the changes in the near future can't be expected. And there is no hope for a breakthrough in economic or socio-economic situation. Given that Armenia is in fact in the besieged position, I would be very surprised if its people feel happy".
"Pessimism of the Georgians and Armenians is caused by the complex political situation in the region, constant conflicts, economic problems and the conflict of interests of international players in the Caucasus", Stepanyan concludes.
Gallup study was conducted in 2011, but the results were made public only recently. Company staff has interviewed 1000 people in each country. The questions concerned the previous day in the life of respondents: how well you rested yesterday? Do the others respect you? How much time did you smile or laugh the day before? Did you learn something interesting yesterday or did you do something interesting?
Curiously, the first five "happy" countries are entirely from Latin America: Panama, Paraguay (85% of positive answers in each), El Salvador and Venezuela (84%), Trinidad and Tobago (83%). The index of Armenia is 49% (second from the end), Georgia - 52% (fourth from the end). Belarus (53%), Lithuania (54%) and Russia (59%) are close.
It should be noted that along with the Gallup Company, British private equity fund New Economics Foundation, founded in 1986 by the representatives of the anti-globalization movement, is also involved in the compilation of an international index of happiness. According to the research of the organization, in 2011, Georgia ranked 72 in the list of 143 countries. Armenia took the 48th place. Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica were in the top of the list.