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Survey of the National Center for Social Research – Quality of Life Association will work for the improvement of personal and social environment in Bulgaria

In the popular perception in our country, quality of life is confused with standard of living, which is mainly associated with income. This is shown by the results of the nationally representative survey conducted at the end of September 2011 by the National Center for International Monitoring of the Quality of Life Association.

The Association, established on the third of August this year by representatives of the business community in the country, started its work by conducting the national survey “Public Perceptions of the Quality of Life in Bulgaria”.

The data show that more than three quarters of the Bulgarians interviewed have minimalist ideas about “quality of life”, such as: having enough money to live, having access to quality health services, being able to cover my household expenses, having enough clothes for all seasons, eating quality food, having a light car, having basic electrical appliances for the home, etc.

Interesting are the data on the 14 indicators, divided into three main groups – “To have”, “To love” and “To be”, which reflect the Bulgarians’ understanding of the state, achievements and success of the individual and society.

The most varied responses were in the “Being” group. The data shows that those who indicate that they have a successful career and are actively involved in various associations and organizations feel more useful and recognized. This is especially true for the highly educated, labour-active and wealthy Bulgarians. When it comes to professional development and career, the results show that one of the conditions for successful professional development and a good career is living in Sofia or in big cities. Higher education is also the basis for a successful career – 61% of the graduates in the survey judged their career as successful.

The need to be useful to others is declared most often by the inhabitants of small settlements, by the employed, by the highly educated and by people aged between 40 and 49.  Positive self-evaluations are registered most often with the indicators that measure partner and friendship relationships (in the “To love” group). 90% of respondents indicated that they have friendly relationships with their neighbours, 77% said they communicate frequently with their children and 70% said they have a good relationship with their partner.

The study recorded significant differences in public judgements of the “To Have” indicators. These are access to good education and knowledge, interesting work and meaningful leisure, as well as having property and money. People most often claimed to own a good home – 80% of all interviewees. Satisfaction with having a good job and enough time for leisure was the least common, with nearly 64% of respondents saying their education was good.

Another important aspect of the survey is the fact that almost half of the respondents said that their quality of life had deteriorated over the past year. 21% – university graduates, people aged between 18 and 29, residents of large cities and the capital, as well as wealthy Bulgarians – describe their quality of life as remaining good. Only 6% of the respondents (mostly people aged between 30 and 39, graduates and those with an income above BGN 400 per household member) believe that their quality of life has improved over the last year.

“We started this project with the desire to understand where we are in terms of our compatriots’ perception of quality of life. The survey shows that the general perception is currently largely determined by the effects of the crisis. The widespread equation of the term “quality of life” with standard of living is a symptom that there is much work to be done and makes the creation of our association extremely timely. We want to achieve an informed judgement among people about the quality of their own lives and a drive to achieve a better and more fulfilling one, and we will seek to reach out to as wide a range of individuals and organisations as possible and attract like-minded individuals from business, the NGO sector, institutions and the public.

And I hope that, thanks to our work, the next study will show a different societal picture. Although at this stage it may sound a bit abstract, the quality of life is an extremely important indicator for the maturation and development of a society, because it puts things in context, clarifies the interconnectedness of various social processes and, ultimately, increases the demand, expectations, activity and the degree of responsibility for the common good of each of us, “- said Lyuben Stanev, Chairman of the Quality of Life Association.

Quality of Life Association will actively work to increase the personal satisfaction of Bulgarians with their lifestyle and to provide them with full human development, opportunities for fulfillment and personal happiness. The most short-term steps in its activities are related to several public events. The Association is planning to hold a seminar in February 2012, at which the companies and organizations that have already recognized the cause will present their best practices in the direction of providing quality life to people. Next, a round table will be organized to discuss publicly the issue of the quality of life of Bulgarians and the steps to improve it.


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