Survey: Most young Armenia citizens want to stay, but tend to go abroad due to unmet expectations

Survey: Most young Armenia citizens want to stay, but tend to go abroad due to unmet expectations

NAZIK ARMENAKYAN
ArmeniaNow

A recent sociological research shows a majority of young people in Armenia would like to see their future connected with their country, but problems they encounter in everyday life often lead them to thinking of leaving.

According to the data of the survey conducted by the Armenian Sociological Association (ASA) among 1,065 people aged 15-25, 62 percent of respondents undoubtedly see their future in Armenia and 15.4 percent have definitively decided to go abroad. Twenty-two percent of respondents did not deny the prospect.

ASA head Gevorg Poghosyan told ArmeniaNow that during the survey they did not seek to clarify what particularly makes the first group of young people feel connected to Armenia. But to the other question, which is “What is needed for life to be successful?”, the surveyed would point out good jobs and high salaries.

The ASA research shows that those young people who connect their future with Armenia expect their salaries to be within a range of 200,000-500,000 drams (about $525-1,315).

“Of course, this is their expectation, which does not mean that they will get that much money. It does not mean that those who will not get that much money will certainly leave, but of course part of those 62 percent will leave if their expectations are not met,” says Poghosyan.

“Today, no specialist receives that high a salary, even academicians don’t. It is clear that young people with such high expectations would eventually have to look to other countries where salaries are higher. In other words, it is also a factor that forms emigration,” adds the sociologist, whose association’s survey revealed several reasons for young people to leave Armenia, including unemployment and poor economic conditions.

Edgar Amirkhanyan, 24, says adverse economic conditions make him do everything to leave the country as soon as possible.

“I always have to think about my financial problems. I work in four jobs at present [Yerkir Media TV, ArtEj studio school, Bridge of Hope NGO, and seminar lecturer], but I cannot even buy a car. I bought my notebook computer on installments,” says Amirkhanyan, who is now taking classes in English so that he can go to the United States for studies and possibly for staying there for permanent residence.

According to official data, nearly 80,000 people left Armenia for good in 2008-2010, in independent experts estimate the number of such people may be between 120,000 and 250,000 – an appreciable figure for a country with a population estimated at around 3 million people. This year’s figures show that during the first nine months the negative balance of all departures and arrivals in Armenia has made 90,000. Specialists, however, say the difference will be narrowed towards the end of the year when ‘seasonal workers’ going to Russia and other countries for temporary work every spring start returning home.

According to the National Statistical Service, as of October this year, the average monthly salary in Armenia is around 115,000 (more than $300), but the size of salaries in provinces is considerably smaller than in capital Yerevan – by at least 20,000 drams (some $52).

Anush Baghdasaryan, a 26-year-old resident of Armenia’s third largest city of Vanadzor, says she receives a monthly salary of 50,000 drams (about $130). She does not complain about her life now, but knows that when she gets married and has a family of her own the money will hardly be enough.

“If jobs are created for young people and they are provided with good opportunities for leisure, then the problem of forming families in Armenia will also be solved. Everything is connected with employment,” says Baghdasaryan. “I don’t want to leave Armenia, but if I see a good opportunity abroad, for example in Europe, I will go.”

Interestingly, although for 67 percent of the survey respondents family is a paramount value, only 21 percent of them are married and 29.5 percent plan to get married. Whereas 22 percent of the surveyed youths are not yet thinking about married life, 25.9 percent say they do not intend to get married at all.

Lala Ter-Ghazaryan is a 27-year-old married woman who doesn’t want to leave Armenia, but she also says she doesn’t want to live in Armenia as it is now.

“I don’t want to leave my country, I want my child to grow up here, but without the disappointments that I’ve had, without facing unlawfulness and injustices. I dream of being a citizen of a democratic, law-abiding country, in that case no social difficulty will make me buy an airplane ticket and go to another country to live their with my child,” says Ter-Ghazaryan.

A report released this week by a global anti-graft watchdog, Transparency International, shows persistent government corruption in Armenia. It ranks the South Caucasus state among 70 or so nations where corruption is perceived as a precondition for the functioning of the state system.