WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region has long been lauded for its safety and thriving business environment relative to the rest of the country. However, even while its economy experienced a steady 8% growth last year, driven by its oil and gas sectors, residents of the three northern provinces governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government are becoming less satisfied with their infrastructure. Satisfaction with public transportation in Iraqi Kurdistan declined sharply to 23% in early 2012, from 54% the previous year. Satisfaction with housing also fell from 53% to 30% during the same period.
Worsening attitudes toward key infrastructure in Kurdistan in March 2012 follow rare protests in Sulaymaniyah last year that focused largely on services and corruption in the region. As the most peaceful and prosperous area of Iraq, major cities in the Kurdish region such as Arbil and Sulaymaniyah have received thousands of migrants from other parts of the country, exacerbating a growing housing crisis despite government efforts to address the issue.
While views have deteriorated in Kurdistan, satisfaction with transportation, housing, and education has increased in the rest of the country. Wide gaps in satisfaction with education and housing that previously existed between Iraqi Kurdistan residents and those living outside the region have narrowed. Iraqis living outside Kurdistan are -- for the first time -- more satisfied with their public transportation systems than those living in Kurdistan (50% vs. 23%, respectively).
Iraqis living in Kurdistan are also now more likely than those outside the region to perceive corruption in government. Whereas residents of Iraqi Kurdistan have generally been less likely to say government corruption is widespread than their counterparts in the rest of Iraq, the opposite is now true. In 2012, 81% of residents in Iraqi Kurdistan report corruption as widespread in government, compared with 67% of respondents in the rest of Iraq.
With attitudes toward services and corruption in Kurdistan continuing to decline alongside calls for a more accountable government, the Kurdistan Regional Government should greater prioritize these issues to ensure that the region's economic growth and stability continue unabated.
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Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 7,001 adults in Iraq, aged 15 and older, conducted between 2009 and 2012. In the Kurdish region, 1,066 respondents were interviewed (366 in 2009; 280 in 2010; 280 in 2011; and 140 in 2012), with a maximum margin of sampling error ranging from ±6.6 to ±9.3 percentage points. Outside of the Kurdish region, 5,934 interviews were conducted (1,635 in 2009; 1,720 in 2010; 1,720 in 2011; and 860 in 2012), with a maximum margin of sampling error ranging from ±2.7 to ±4.0 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.