Kosovars More Positive on Government, Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An independent Kosovo is apparently a more positive Kosovo, according to Gallup Polls conducted before and after Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, 2008. In October 2008, Kosovars’ confidence in their national government jumped to 55% from 38% in January 2007.

More than 50 U.N. member states, including the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, recognize Kosovo’s independent statehood, though Russia and Serbia do not.

Kosovo is eligible for membership candidacy to the European Union; however, the European Commission often cites corruption as a major obstacle to EU admission for many Balkan states. While 69% of Kosovars perceive corruption to be widespread throughout the government, this is down from the 84% who said so in 2007.

Kosovars are also more positive about their economic prospects, both nationally and locally. In October 2008, before the global economic meltdown, a majority (58%) said their national economy was getting better, up from 39% in 2007. Far fewer respondents said the national economy was the same, down to 14% from 33%, while about one in four continue to say it is getting worse.

In addition to rosier views of the national economy, about half of Kosovars (51%) said in October 2008 that their city’s economy is getting better, up from 40% in 2007.

Kosovars’ optimism about the future of their economy stands out in the Balkan region, which is interesting given that their economic realities are fairly bleak: The most recent estimate of GDP per capita in Kosovo is $2,300, which places the country as the poorest in Europe. That said, the Gallup Poll of Kosovo conducted in October 2008 coincided with the escalation of the global financial crisis, making it probable that Kosovars’ attitudes toward their economy have shifted some since.

More Positive Attitudes Toward Life Overall in Kosovo
Relatively positive attitudes in Kosovo extend beyond the economy. Roughly three-fourths of respondents (76%) are satisfied with their cities as places to live, up from 67% in early 2007. And 62% would recommend the city or area where they live to others, up from 47% in 2007.

Gallup also finds that Kosovars’ sense of well-being has improved. The Gallup Poll asks respondents to evaluate their lives by imagining a “ladder” with steps numbered from 0 to 10. Respondents who say that they presently stand on step 7 or higher of the ladder and expect to stand on step 8 or higher five years from now are considered “thriving.” For Kosovo, the percentage of residents who can be classified as “thriving” improved from 19% to 29%.

Bottom Line
Residents in Kosovo have more positive attitudes toward their government, their city, their local and national economies, and their own lives than they did before independence. The global economic downturn has likely affected their economic opinions, but overall Gallup data show a more positive outlook in the newly independent nation.

Survey Methods
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,046 to 1,047 adults in Kosovo, aged 15 and older, conducted in January 2007 and October 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.