Latvia - Poverty and wealth

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
Jan 2001 0.614
2000 0.607
1999 0.585
1998 0.590
1997 0.581
1996 0.551
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Latvia 2,382 2,797 3,210 3,703 2,328
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Russia 2,555 3,654 3,463 3,668 2,138
Lithuania N/A N/A N/A 3,191 2,197
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
Lowest 10% 2.9
Lowest 20% 7.6
Second 20% 12.9
Third 20% 17.1
Fourth 20% 22.1
Highest 20% 40.3
Highest 10% 25.9
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
Latvia 30 5 16 6 23 11 10
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Lithuania 33 5 13 4 27 9 8
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.

Also read article about Latvia from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

I travel to Latvia for two weeks every other year. My wife was born there and came to the US in 1990. I know many Latvians and have been to every region more than once. Latvia is a beautiful country with beautiful, strong, proud and independent minded people.

You will not regret spending your vacation there, dining in the great resturants and drinking the spectacular beer from any of the local breweries!

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