Social conditions have improved significantly since the difficult years of the early 1990s. Fewer Lithuanians are poor and public health has improved. Yet around a third of the population is still at risk of falling into poverty or social exclusion following a new economic downturn.
Poverty is especially widespread in the countryside and the income gaps between the city and the countryside are large. There is a wealthy business elite in Vilnius and other major cities, while most Lithuanians work for low wages. The poor pensioners belong to the poorest groups.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Lithuania, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Lithuanian society is one of the most unequal in the EU. In 2014, more than a quarter of the population lived in relative poverty, ie earned 60 percent of the country’s median salary or less. It is one of the highest proportions in the EU.
The social situation worsened during the financial crisis of 2008–2009, when many people were forced to live on food aid paid for by EU grants or by aid organizations. Pensions and salaried employees’ salaries were sharply reduced in connection with budget cuts during the crisis years, while many lost their jobs, not least in the public sector.
Weak social protection networks
During the Soviet era (1944–1991), all citizens were guaranteed the emergency of life, and Lithuania was one of the most economically successful Soviet republics. The transition to market economy in the 1990s created a new middle class, but at the same time deteriorated the living conditions of large groups, especially rural residents and pensioners. Unemployment arose and at the same time the social protection networks weakened. In 1994, an average family was forced to spend 60 percent of the household budget on food.
Public health deteriorated and life expectancy declined during the 1990s. In 1993, the average life expectancy for men was down for 63 years, partly as a result of extensive alcohol consumption. Violence against women is a widespread problem, and domestic violence was first criminalized in 2011. The suicide rate is high.
Health care also deteriorated during the transition in the 1990s, when primary care was expanded. Nowadays, care is relatively well developed, but the financial resources are scarce and the wages of care workers are low. It is common for patients to pay gratitude gifts / bribes to doctors for faster and better care.
The social insurance system offers a number of benefits, including old-age pension, health insurance, parental benefit and unemployment benefits. However, the compensation is low. Some of them were lowered during the crisis years 2009-2010, but the decision makers have subsequently tried to restore pensions and unemployment benefits to the levels that prevailed before the crisis. Parliament decided in 2011 to gradually increase the retirement age from 62.5 years for men and 60 years for women to 65 years for all 2026. The fact that Lithuania’s population is shrinking (see Population and Languages) is, in the long run, a huge challenge for welfare systems, as fewer and fewer people must pay for an increasing proportion of the elderly in the population.
Family and community life
Despite a history as a Grand Principality with a class of nobility, today’s Lithuanian society is not so hierarchical, but quite bureaucratic. There is a deep distrust of government, a contempt for politicians who have contributed to political populism. The difficult economic conditions have promoted corruption, which is also a legacy of the Soviet era.
The Lithuanians made the strongest resistance to the Soviet system, and the Lithuanian communist leaders slowed down on Russianization and Sovietization more than the other Baltics. Still, some old Soviet attitudes in social life and state bureaucracy can be met today. This mainly concerns an older generation of business leaders and officials, while younger Lithuanians have developed a more dynamic style with Scandinavian influence.
The family has traditionally been at the heart of the social structure, and in many places loyalty to the family is still strong today and the obligations to family members are many. It is not uncommon for three generations to live together and for the children to be supervised by grandparents.
Traditionally, the Catholic faith has also formed a basis in social life. Although the role of religion has weakened in recent years, a new law came into force in 2010 which states that it is harmful to promote a different view of the family than the constitution, that is, marriage can only be entered into between a man and a woman. Among younger residents, the view of the family has been liberalized, marriages are decreasing in number, divorces are common and the single mothers are many.
The situation of women, LGBT people and children
Men and women have the same legal rights. Gender discrimination is prohibited by law but still occurs in both private and working life, with lower wages and less influence for women compared to men. In 2013, men earned 12.5 percent more than women despite performing similar tasks. The prevalence of sexual harassment in working life is reported to be high. In the low-wage occupation, for example, health care, women dominate.
Discrimination due to sexual orientation or ethnicity occurs, as does anti-Semitism. Roma are said to be a particularly vulnerable group, which, compared to the average of the population, has difficulty accessing education and the labor market.
Marriage or partnership between people of the same sex is not allowed. Vilnius city has repeatedly banned pride festivals, and homophobia is relatively common in Lithuania. In 2009, a law was passed that prohibits the dissemination of information on bi- and homosexuality.
Even the children’s situation can be difficult with, for example, bullying in schools and domestic violence. In February 2017, children’s leg was banned. The law had been debated for a long time but decisive because it was now adopted was the upset that a four-year-old boy had been beaten to death by his mother and her boyfriend.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 3 per 1000 births (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 97.4 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 93.4 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 6.5 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 988 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 21 percent (2018)
New government takes office
Andrius Kubilius, leader of the Confederation of the Federation, will take over as prime minister for a coalition government consisting of the Confederation of the Confederation, the National Resurrection Party and two small liberal parties. The government has a majority in parliament (81 of 141 seats). It begins its term of office with severe financial tightening to curb the negative consequences of the financial crisis that erupted during the autumn (see Economic overview).
Conservative rolling victor
The Conservative Confederation wins the first round of parliamentary elections before the newly formed populist Party for National Resurrection and the ousted President Rolanda Paksa’s Party Order and Justice. The election will be a great loss for the ruling Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP), which in the second round, however, wins in a series of one-man constituencies.
Invalid nuclear vote
At the same time as the parliamentary election, an advisory referendum is held to postpone the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which is planned for 2009. The result will be a resounding yes, but the turnout is too low for it to be valid (below 50 percent).