From the 1988 earthquake and during the war on Nagorno-Karabakh 1991-1994, living conditions in Armenia deteriorated drastically to reach a bottom position in 1992-1993. Conditions have improved considerably since then, but there are still major differences in welfare between city and country.
During the most difficult years, the Armenians suffered winter after winter without heat in their houses and lack of food. People fired with their furniture and with books. In 1993, more than half of the country’s hospitals were closed due to lack of electricity or equipment. In the same year, 90 percent of all Armenians were estimated to live below the poverty line.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Armenia, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Conditions have improved over the decades, partly due to increased tourist incomes and modernization, which has occurred not least in the IT industry. The country’s economy has shown good growth figures in recent years. But many still live under small circumstances, especially in rural areas. In 2012, the government said that about 30 percent of residents could be described as poor. According to the state statistical authority, the poverty line went below a monthly income of less than 53,000 dramas, corresponding to about SEK 950. One newspaper estimated that in that case, 60-70 percent of the population was poor. In the country, life is characterized not only by a lack of money but also by poor access to running water, gas for heating and cooking and poor sanitary conditions.
For a temporary visitor, Armenia may seem very calm, and public crime is low. However, corruption is widespread, and the country’s economy is considered permeated by organized crime ruled by criminal clans and mafia-like leagues. It has also created such dissatisfaction with the country’s politicians that it has led to a shift in power (see Current policy).
Armenia is one of the countries where “trafficking” in the form of trafficking in women and girls for sexual exploitation is most common. Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have been identified as the most common recipients of Armenian women being lured abroad with promises of work. Armenian authorities have been accused of looking between the fingers of human trafficking. Few human traffickers are arrested and most of them escape lightly.
Organized illegal trafficking in male labor also occurs. Then the victims usually end up in Russia.
At the end of 2017, a new law was passed to reduce the incidence of domestic violence. But both women and children are still at risk of being abused, and the justice system’s response to the victims must be better as well as access to sheltered housing, the organization Human Rights Watch 2018 wrote after interviewing people exposed to the crimes.
Abortions are legal. Alarming numbers have been reported for the proportion of aborted girl fetuses, among the highest in the world after China and neighboring Azerbaijan. In 2012, according to the UN, 114 boys were born per 100 girls. In 2016, Parliament passed several laws to make it more difficult to abort girl fetuses. Among other things, doctors are not allowed to perform abortions if the woman says she does not want to give birth to a girl. Women’s organizations object that the laws are inadequate and create the risk of illegal abortions.
At independence in 1991, Armenia basically retained the social security system that existed during the Soviet era, but the economic crisis caused many contributions to be cut or withdrawn. The help of hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims and refugees brought a huge strain on the grant system. Some grants have been paid for with assistance from abroad. Voluntary contributions from Armenians living abroad have also played an important role. As of year-end 2014, all born after 1974 must dedicate five percent of their salary to private pension funds.
In a World Bank study published in 2018, it was noted that the number of hospital beds and the number of doctors per thousand residents was still lower than during the Soviet era (1920–1991).
In 2018, the health insurance for children was expanded. Until now, healthcare had been free for children under school age. The decision extended the free health care to children and adolescents up to the age of 18, but only in the end-of-life care. In 2019, the government announced plans to also make visits to the outpatient hospital free of charge for Armenians of school age.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 11 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 0.2 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 98.9 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 93.6 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 10.1 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: $ 359 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 18 percent (2018)
Requirements for new elections
The opposition is conducting new demonstrations with around 10,000 participants in Yerevan. Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan demands new elections and imprisoned opposition members should be released.
Protest campaign against the government
The opposition party National Congress (HAK) is launching a campaign with protests against the government. These are the biggest demonstrations since the bloody protests following the 2008 presidential election.