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Why are Azerbaijanis the most unhappy in the region?

Propagandists in Azerbaijan are spreading claims about the mass satisfaction of the people with their standard of living. However, such statements are not supported by quantitative and qualitative indicators (comparison of salaries, allowances, food costs, etc.) in comparison with neighboring states.

The research centers “Earth Institute” and “Center for Sustainable Development” at Columbia University in the USA have calculated the ranking of countries in the world by the level of happiness (World Happiness Report). The data with the results of the latest study were published in March 2024. According to the total index consisting of several criteria, Azerbaijan ranked 101st out of 143 countries. The study recorded a significant drop in the level of happiness compared to 2023, when Azerbaijan ranked the 88th. According to surveys among young people under 30, Azerbaijan ranked 95th, among middle-aged citizens – 103rd, and among people over 60 – 108th. It is also sad that the change between the level of happiness in 2006-2010 and 2021-2023 was insignificant (0.311 points), while in Georgia the progress was significant (1.292), and in Armenia less impressive (0.981). Such a disposition of Azerbaijan in the world happiness ranking cannot but cause a shocking effect.

https://gtmarket.ru/ratings/world-happiness-report

https://happiness-report.s3.amazonaws.com/2024/WHR+24.pdf

The happiest people in the world are Finnish citizens for the seventh time, and the most unhappy are residents of Afghanistan. Afghanistan and Lebanon complete the list, as in 2023.

The location of other countries also looks logical. The top ten includes the richest countries on the planet, with reliable healthcare, high levels of social protection and low corruption. The ranking of ten out of eight totalitarian African countries closes, with Yemen and Lebanon among them.

Azerbaijanis are interested in our neighbors and countries from the former USSR. Only Ukrainians live worse than we (105th place), which is explained by Russia’s heavy war against this country. Armenia, which catastrophically lost the war, ranks the 82nd, Georgia – 91st, Russia – 72nd, Iran – 100th, Turkiye – 98th, Kazakhstan – 49th, Uzbekistan – 47th. The United States rank 23rd, Great Britain – 20th. Uzbekistan is recognized as the happiest country in Central Asia, ranking 47th.

It is possible, as before, commenting on the outsider places of our country, to parry the result with the subjective, anti-Azerbaijani attitude of Western research centers. But the compilers of the happiness index rating work under the auspices of the United Nations within the framework of the global initiative “UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network”. The credibility and objectivity of this international research project are beyond doubt. Azerbaijan does not consider the UN to be a hostile organization.

When compiling the rating, the indicators compiled by national institutes are considered. These are indicators of well-being such as the level of GDP per capita, life expectancy, the availability of civil liberties, a sense of security and confidence in the future, family stability, job security, the level of corruption, as well as indirect indicators of the state of society: the level of trust, generosity and generosity.

A significant part of the study consists of the results of public opinion polls of residents of different countries on how happy they feel, conducted by the Gallup International Research Center (Gallup International.)

The authors of the rating believe that the results shown by most countries are three-quarters explained by six social and economic factors: gross national product per capita, healthy life expectancy, the level of social protection and mutual assistance in society, the level of corruption, the ability to influence one’s life, as well as the breadth of charity.

Azerbaijan’s 101st place would not have depressed readers if we had been told the truth about the development in neighboring countries. Thus, the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) predicts GDP growth in Armenia – 5.7%, Belarus – 2%, Kazakhstan – 5%, Kyrgyzstan – 4.5%, Russia – 1.5% in 2024. According to the forecasts of the Azerbaijani government, GDP growth in 2024 is expected to reach 2.4%

Last year, Armenia became the leader in the South Caucasus in terms of GDP per capita – $8,280, according to the International Monetary Fund. Compare with Azerbaijan’s GDP per capita – 12 thousand 114.5 manats ($7,126) in 2023. Why is there a thousand dollars less for every inhabitant of Azerbaijan rich in oil and gas than in “impoverished” Armenia?

In February 2024, inflation was recorded at 0.6% in Azerbaijan compared to the February. And in neighboring Georgia, 0.3% inflation was recorded in February.

We situation in the ranking of countries in the world by suicide rate (Suicide in the World, conducted by the World Health Organization) is not better. The indicator is calculated by the number of suicides per 100 thousand people. The higher the country’s place on the list, the more suicides there are. Azerbaijan ranks 144th, Armenia – 156, Turkey – 169. In Georgia, the region’s sad anti-record is 66th.

Experts in Azerbaijan explain the chronically low indicator of the country in the happiness rating with serious problems related to social issues, health care, and freedom of choice. Economist Natig Jafarli highlights the problem of the fact that more than half of their income (52-53%) of the population spends on food.

In 2023, analysts of Picodi.com reviewed statistical data in 105 countries and calculated how much money residents of different regions of the world spend on food. The percentage of spending on food at home (not in restaurants) of all consumer spending is shown. The data is taken from Euromonitor International and the statistical offices of the countries. Azerbaijan is in 95th place – 43.6%, followed by Uganda, Kazakhstan, Angola, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria (59%). The leader of the list is the USA – 6.7%. in Georgia – 32.3%, Iran – 28.7%, Turkey -27.3%, Russia – 29%.

Azerbaijan has a low level of pension payments, and this significantly affects the well-being of the population, N.Jafarli believes. Let us compare it with our neighbors: in Russia, the average pension is 22 thousand rubles (403 manats). In Azerbaijan – 370 manats in 2024.

Kamal Ali
Expert, observer

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