Political changes and the reintroduction of a free market system in 1991 have forced people who once depended
|Exchange rates: Latvia|
|lats (Ls) per US$1|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|
|GDP per Capita (US$)|
|SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.|
on the state to struggle independently for their economic survival. For the poorest in Latvia, life is difficult because social services, such as health care, worker's compensation, and pensions, have been dramatically cut. The percentage of Latvia's poorest is higher than well-developed nations, with 21.4 percent living below the poverty line (defined as one-half of the average income). Poverty is highest among rural residents (26 percent) and among families with 3 or more children (44.1 percent), according to a report by Petra Lantz de Bernardis.
A 1999 survey of living conditions in Latvia reported by the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia revealed, not surprisingly, that those with the lowest degree of education had the least favorable prospects for jobs. However, an advanced education does not necessarily guarantee a high standard of living in contemporary Latvia, nor does a high standard of living necessarily indicate an advanced education. In 1999 the average wage for an individual with a high education was 156 lats while a person with a basic education received 75 lats. In comparison to state and public enterprises, private enterprises more often engage workers without a contract, put them in unfavorable work conditions, and provide no sense of job security for the worker. Of the survey respondents aged 18 and over, 7.2 percent have been robbed of personal belongings from a home or car, 3.6 percent have been threatened with violence, and 3.3 percent have been mugged.
|Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Latvia|
|Survey year: 1998|
|Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.|
|SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].|
|Household Consumption in PPP Terms|
|Country||All Food||Clothing and footwear||Fuel and power a||Health care b||Education b||Transport & Communications||Other|
|Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.|
|a Excludes energy used for transport.|
|b Includes government and private expenditures.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
Many households cannot afford simple amenities. About 11 percent of the households cannot afford education for their children, 16 percent cannot cover emergency medical expenses, 20 percent cannot afford to eat meat or fish at least 3 times a week, 21 percent cannot afford annual dental checkups, 38 percent cannot go out for an evening at the movies or a concert, 38 percent cannot afford to entertain guests, 65 percent cannot afford new clothes, 77 percent cannot afford to replace worn furniture, and 82 percent do not have enough money for a holiday weekend abroad. While nearly half of the survey respondents reported good health, it was found that increased age was accompanied by decreased health. Also, there was a direct correlation between poor economic conditions and reports of ill health.