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A majority of Russian pensions claim they are happy although the share of those satisfied with life is smaller compared with other age groups, and it is pensioners who tend not to expect changes for the better, according to an opinion poll conducted by the All Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion ahead of Day of Older Persons marked on October 1. The Izvestia newspaper commented on the results of the research.
More than one third of elderly persons (33% to 36% depending on the age) said they were satisfied with their life, yet their share is significantly smaller compared with young people. More than 52% of respondents aged 18 to 24 said they were happy with their life.
Nineteen to 21% of elderly people would expect changes for the worse more often than other age groups, while only 13% to 16% have hopes for the better. They sharply contrast with youngsters: almost one half (48%) of juniors are confident they will fare better in a year, versus 6 percent of young people who believe the situation will worsen.
Still, a majority of polled elderly people (56% to 72%) said they were happy.
WCIOM Director General Valery Fyodorov explained that there are several reasons behind this optimism. Firstly, present-day pensioners are people who grew up, integrated into the society and lived most of their lives during the Soviet era. "When it was announced that the rules of the game would change, they actually began to reintegrate into the society at mature age. Some were successful, some weren't," Fyodorov said.
He thinks it is also necessary to take into account the age factor: as a rule, youngsters are more optimistic. They believe all options are open and all good things are ahead. Lastly, although the government has pensions adjusted for inflation, the elderly people living in Russia differ greatly from their peers in Western Europe who can afford travelling round the world after retiring.
Darya Khalturina, an expert of the Public Chamber's Commission for Social Issues and Demographic Policy noted that as a rule, the level of being happy with one's life does not decrease in other countries as people get older. "It's a Russian phenomenon. Numerous polls showed that this trend is not observed in Europe, Australia or Africa," Khalturina said.
The situation that developed in Russia is linked not only with a low pension, but also with social isolation of the elderly, because various civil society bodies are poorly developed. In the West, seniors are normally involved in the work of such organizations, while in third world countries they traditionally raise their grandchildren, the expert said.
"The role of family has decreased in Russia, and a new type of civil society is just beginning to take shape," she went on. "Even the fact that some 70% of polled elderly people feel happy would not look that positive compared with Europe, where 90% of pensioners say they enjoy living."