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Old Problems Await New Leader in Ukraine

Old Problems Await New Leader in Ukraine

by Zach Bikus

Story Highlights

  • Nearly two-thirds of Ukrainians (65%) are dissatisfied with their standard of living
  • Half (50%) say their standard of living is getting worse
  • A record 31% say they want to move to another country permanently

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Regardless of the outcome in Ukraine's presidential election this weekend, Ukraine's next leader will continue to face high expectations from residents who are waiting for them to complete the reforms they were promised after the Euromaidan revolution.

Among these are continuing economic reforms that enabled the country to crawl out of a deep recession in 2015 and ensuring that this economic growth reaches more Ukrainian households. Fewer than three in 10 residents (29%) last year said they are satisfied with their current standard of living, and half (50%) said it is getting worse. While this marks an improvement since the height of the country's near economic collapse, these numbers still lag behind the regional averages for former Soviet Union states.

Nearly two-thirds of Ukrainians (65%) are dissatisfied with their standard of living.

Ukrainians Still Struggling With the Basics

A variety of factors are behind this enduring level of dissatisfaction, including the persistent problems that many Ukrainians have with meeting their families' basic needs. Nearly four in 10 adults in Ukraine report not having enough money for food (38%) or shelter (38%), while almost half (47%) say they are dissatisfied with the availability of good, affordable housing in their city.

Line graph. Nearly four in 10 Ukrainians say they have struggled to afford food and shelter in the past year.

More Ukrainians Looking to Leave

Low wages, combined with a lack of employment options, have also led some Ukrainians to look abroad in search of new opportunities. A recent article in The Washington Post finds that one in 10 Ukrainians, nearly 5 million people, are currently working outside of their country's borders. These workers provided remittances back into Ukraine that are expected to amount to nearly 12% of the country's GDP this year.

While some of this movement is cyclical, with workers returning home at regular intervals, a growing number of residents are looking to move out of Ukraine for good. A record-high 31% of Ukrainians report that they would like to move to another country permanently, a rise of 12 percentage points since 2014.

Line graph. Ukrainians' desire to move permanently to another country, 2008-2018 trend.

Signs of Hope

Amid the disenchantment, there is some cause for optimism, including an uptick in life evaluation scores. When asked to rate their life today on a 0 to 10 scale, the average score for Ukrainian adults was 4.75 in 2018; this is among the lowest in the region and below the regional average for post-Soviet states. However, it is a strong improvement over the 4.03 average in 2015.

Line graph. Life evaluations in Ukraine are slowly rising since hitting a record low during and after the recent recession.

Bottom Line

The enduring and widespread economic and social problems in Ukraine have played a major role in pulling the life evaluations of its residents to the some of the lowest levels seen among the former Soviet states. Upon assuming office this summer, the newly anointed president will need to address issues that have plagued citizens for decades, while also working to combat new problems, including repeated cyberattacks and an increased propaganda campaign by neighboring Russia.

Julie Ray contributed to this article.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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