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ON WHOSE HEADS WERE ALL THE “CONES” FALLING IN 2014?

While analyzing the results of December survey, one must remember that it was conducted before the government and the National bank made a number of decisions which restricted the conditions of foreign currency purchase. This is an official wording which in fact means a 30% devaluation of Belarusian ruble.
According to a decision of the IV All-Belarusian People’s Assembly, average wages in the country should have reached $ 1000. Note: not in 2015, but by 2015. Devaluation brought average wages of an average Belarusian back to the level of mid-2010 ($ 370).
Real wages decreased by 3.5% in November 2014 in comparison with October 2014. Dynamics of macroeconomic indices doesn’t inspire optimism, so the probability of further wages decrease is quite high.
Despite the fact that the survey was conducted before the devaluation, answers to the question of Table 1 documented an increase of negative evaluations. According to 45.5% of respondents for Belarus year 2014 was more difficult than year 2013 (+7 points). But this is not a catastrophe, if you compare it to year 2011.
Naturally, evaluations depend on political preferences of respondents. 35.1% of A. Lukashenko’s supporters (those who trust him) and 61.2% of his opponents (those who don’t trust him) evaluated year 2014 as a difficult one for Belarus. Taking into consideration educational structure of supporters and opponents of the head of state, we can see that with the increase of level education increases level of negative evaluations: primary education – 19.1%, higher education – 50.2%.
As for the personal level, there was no increase of negative evaluations. There is nothing surprising about it. As it follows from graph 2, the range is much narrower when it “becomes personal”. Let’s compare results of years 2011 and 2012 (see graphs 1-2). In the first case the difference equals to 33.7 points, while in the second case it equals to only 9 points!
By way of commentary let us cite an anecdote, which was popular in the beginning of 90s: “A Chukchi man explains to his wife: “Perestroika is like a hurricane in taiga: it is noisy above, and below it is dark and all the cones fall on our heads”.
In 2014 “cones were falling” twice as often on the heads of A. Lukashenko’s opponents as on the heads of his supporters (45.3% vs. 23.8%) and twice as often on the heads of people with higher education as on the heads of people with primary education (35.8% vs. 17.9%).
Dependency of “cone fall” on the age is not so simple: 18-29 years old – 30.8%, 30-39 years old – 37.1%, 40-49 years old – 37.4%, 50-59 years old – 35.4%, 60 years old and older – 25.2%. Thus, year 2014 was evaluated as an unsuccessful one mainly by Belarusians of active age.
Dependency of answers to questions of Tables 1-2 on the average income per family member turned out to be quite the opposite (graph 3). Level of negative evaluations of year 2014 for Belarus among respondents with maximum incomes exceeded the same level among respondents with minimal incomes by 10 points. But there is an inverse relation in the evaluations of personal year’s results (–24.3 points)!
* Million rubles
We’ve already mentioned connection between evaluations and education level of respondents. Educated people fall for propaganda influence to a lesser extent. Education contributes to critical views on macroeconomic events, and this is reflected in the first row of graph 3.
An unexpected outcome of year 2014 is the decrease of labor migration of Belarusians. After the crash of Russian ruble there was a lot of news about mass homecoming of migrant workers from Central Asia Republics. But this process concerned Belarusians as well, as it follows from graph 4.
Correctness of assumption that Russian factor influences the decrease of labor migration from Belarus is confirmed by graph 5 data. In 2013 56% of Belarusian migrant workers worked in Russia, in 2014 this share amounted to 49%. With great probability we may assert that Russian labor market shrinkage for Belarusians will continue in 2015 as well.
Summing up year 2013 we had noted that over 5 years Belarusians survived two financial and economic crises and expected the third one all the second half of 2013. But year 2014, despite the zero increase of incomes (excluding December) was perceived as a year of stability by majority of Belarusians. Sociologists were talking about a victory of political factors over economic factors (Anomaly 2014) and saw the main reason for this anomaly in the events in and around Ukraine. It seems that in the end of the year economic factor comes to the fore once again.