ISSN 2330-717X

Social Uncertainty Weakens Latvia – OpEd

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The latest data of the Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) show that at the beginning of 2018 population of Latvia accounted for 1 million 934 thousand, which is 15.7 thousand people fewer than a year ago.

Another survey conducted in 2018 by the CSB, shows that the share of Latvia’s population exposed to the risk of poverty grew by 1.2 percentage points from a year before to 446,000 people.

CSB representatives said that the monthly at-risk-of-poverty threshold went up to EUR 367 per one-person household (EUR 330 monthly in 2016). In households consisting of two adults with two children aged under 14 years the monthly at-risk-of-poverty threshold reached EUR 770 in 2017 (EUR 694 in 2016).

Dry statistics hides awful things. One forth of the population that is about 400 thousand can’t enjoy a normal life. According to the survey, the worst situation is in Latgale where 39.2 percent of residents live at-risk-of-poverty.

The striking fact is the largest at-risk-of-poverty rate fixed in large families (couples with three or more children) (20.5 percent). Paradoxically how could a European state allow its children to starve and deprive of hope for basic needs, such as food, clothes and good education. The conclusion is disappointing: depriving people of hope for normal life, the state authorities deprive Latvia of future. Thus, there is nothing surprising in population outflow.

What does all this mean? It means that Latvians are so poor, that they can’t think about something but food. They can’t be fully engaged in political, cultural or other spheres of life. They are not capable to support their children or parents. They exist, not live. That is probably the main reason for Latvians’ political apathy.

Otherwise how to explain the protracted process of government formation, social problems. The only sphere that flourishes is defence. Latvia is one of a handful of NATO countries that spends 2 per cent on defence with more than 20 other members missing that goal. Thus, the government increases the defence spendings but does not pay enough attention to social problems.

Is it not a normal state of affairs. The result may be devastating: there will be modern military vehicles and equipment, but will be no one to serve in the armed forces. Poor people have no desire to defend their poverty, they have NOTHING to defend.

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Viktors Domburs

Viktors Domburs

Viktors Domburs is an engineer, born in Latvia, and now lives in the United Kingdom.

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