USD 84.78
EUR 99.84
RUB 1.17

Thirty years of independence: How the lives of Kyrgyzstanis have changed

The Kyrgyzstanis have not begun to live better over the years of independence in spite of the promises of politicians. A quarter of the country’s population still lives below the poverty line. Wages and pensions are «eaten up» by inflation, and food prices are getting higher and higher every year.

How the population has changed

Over 30 years, the population of Kyrgyzstan has grown by 2,134.4 million people, or 1.5 times. More than a third of the population (34 percent) lives in cities, about two thirds (66 percent) — in rural areas.

To date, on average, there are 33 people per 1 square kilometer in the republic. The most densely populated regions are Osh and Chui, where 48 people per square kilometer live.

Over the years of independence, the number of Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Dungans, Tajiks has increased, while the number of Russians, Ukrainians, Tatars, Belarusians, and Germans has decreased. In total, there are more than 100 nationalities in the republic, the most numerous of them (as of the end of 2020) are Kyrgyz — 73.8 percent, the Uzbeks — 14.9 percent and the Russians — 5.2 percent.

How the standard of living has changed...

The standard of living of the population of Kyrgyzstan is still extremely low. At the end of last year, every fourth resident of the country lived in poverty.

At least 1,678,000 people lived below the poverty line in 2020.

More than 58 percent of the total number of the poor lived in Jalal-Abad, Osh and Chui regions. According to the World Bank, the poverty level of the population of Kyrgyzstan reached 31 percent at the end of 2020.

In 2021, the figure may rise due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis. In fact, in terms of poverty, the republic is approaching the level of 1993. That are the achievements.

«The situation in the labor market of Kyrgyzstan for 30 years has been characterized by the development of new types of labor activity, a departure from the principles of compulsory employment and the emergence of unemployment,» the National Statistical Committee noted.

The number of people employed at enterprises and organizations decreased 2.5 times, their share in the total number of the employed population decreased from 82 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 2020.

If only 100 people were officially unemployed in 1991, then in 2020 — 76,700.

Incomes of the employed population of the country also do not inspire much optimism. In som terms, an average wage in the republic grows annually. However, we should bear in mind that Kyrgyzstan is an import-dependent country. Consequently, the real level of earnings can be estimated only by converting the average salary into U.S. dollars.

For all the years of independence, the highest average wage in Kyrgyzstan was registered in 2019 — $ 247.4.

Over the past ten years, its size has fluctuated around $ 170-230. In the first years of independence, it did not even reach $ 50. For the first time, the wage exceeded $ 100 only in 2007, that is, 16 years after the collapse of the USSR.

The subsistence minimum in Kyrgyzstan increased by 4,153.22 soms for 20 years and amounted to 5,358.53 soms. An average pension in the republic at the end of 2020 was 6,061 soms, or $ 72.

Prices continue to spike

After gaining independence, the administrative mechanism for regulating prices was abolished in the country. They were formed according to the market principle, which in the first years of independence led to a sharp spike in prices.

The highest inflation rates were registered before 1995.

Over the past 10 years, the highest inflation rate was registered in 2014 (10.5 percent) and 2020 (9.7 percent). A sharp rise in prices was also observed in 2010, when prices of goods rose by 19.2 percent at once.

The main reason is that Kyrgyzstan is almost completely dependent on imports. This means that the final prices are formed depending on the situation in the world markets and the dollar exchange rate.

According to the National Statistical Committee, prices in Kyrgyzstan increased by 7.3 percent for six months of 2021. Food and non-alcoholic drinks rose in price by 11 percent at once, alcohol and cigarettes — by 7.7 percent, non-food products — by 4.1 percent, tariffs for services rendered to the population — by 1.2 percent.

Prices of potatoes, vegetables, vegetable oil and sugar grew most of all in the republic. This is the best display of what the authorities’ decisions to privatize and reform the agricultural system have led to. Now we buy even those products that we are able to produce ourselves, and the prices for them only grow amid the pandemic, complicating the life of the predominantly poor population of the republic.