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Russia and Sweden Compared

In: Social Issues

Submitted By SOPA2109
Words 1034
Pages 5
Sonya Pavlova,
T1, Group 1
A comparison of how the society influences life-satisfaction
Despite being separated by only one country Russia and Sweden have many differences. Russia is not only almost 40 times the size of Sweden and has a population 15 times larger but how the citizens in the respective countries perceive their society and life situation also differs. Nevertheless, several important similarities can be found too. By comparing three aspects of everyday-life — education, civic engagement and life-satisfaction — differences and similarities between Russia and Sweden will be explored. According to the Organization for Economic co-operation development (OECD), education aids an individual in many ways and is a key-factor to attain life-satisfaction. However, it will be demonstrated that living in a society where the government displays trustworthiness and encourages civic engagement might play a more important role when it comes to a person’s happiness and wellbeing.
A high-quality education is beneficial for both the individual and the country (OECD). Educated people are more likely to have well-paid jobs which increase their chances to achieve a social network to rely on and to afford essentials which are important for one’s wellbeing (OECD). The economic development of a country depends on a well-educated population and, in turn, a prosperous society can offer more benefits to their citizens (OECD). Russia and Sweden have equal rates of high school graduates, as much as 91% of the people between 19 and 25 years old have graduated, which is much higher than the average of 78% (OECD). Yet, there is a difference in the quality of the education (OECD). The PISA-test measures students’ ability to read and their knowledge in science and mathematics (OECD). Whereas Swedes achieved 496 points at this test, close to the OECD-average of 497 points, Russians only achieved 469 points (OECD). One reason could be that quality of knowledge and time spent studying are correlated and the average time of education is 19.2 years for a Swede while it is 16.6 years in Russia (OECD). Moreover, the size of Russia increases the risk of unequal schooling across the country (Agranovich, Bolotov Lenskaya). In the long run, the low quality of education could slow down economic development in Russia whereas Sweden has good economic prospects due to its well-educated population.
Presence of active civic engagement is correlated with a cohesive society (OECD). Both Sweden and Russia seem to allow all people to engage in political activities, disregarding their economic, ethnic or social background. In Russia there is only a 4% gap between voters from the highest 20% economic rank and the lowest 20% economical rank and for Sweden this number is 6%, both being significantly lower than the OECD average gap of 12% (OECD). However, this is not enough to grant active civic engagement. High transparency of a government encourages citizens to exercise their democratic rights and is essential for the trust in political institutions (the White House). It is also correlated with low rates of corruption within a country (Transparency International). Sweden is ranked as the third least corrupted country in the world while Russia places 127th in world transparency rankings (Transparency international). This implies a significantly higher level of corruption in Russia than in Sweden (Transparency International). Only 44% of the Russian population trusts their political institution in comparison to 65% in Sweden (OECD). Furthermore, no more than 65% of the registered Russians voted in the latest parliament election whereas this number was 85% in Sweden (OECD). Even if both countries provide equal rights for their citizens to participate politically the difference concerning corruption might be a reason to why Swedes feel more confident with their government and have higher rates of civic engagement than Russia.
It is complicated to measure happiness but through subjective measurements one can estimate the average live-satisfaction within a country (OECD) Both Swedes and Russians were asked to rate their life satisfaction on a 0-10 scale. The average grade for Russians was 5.6, lower than the OECD average of 6.6, while Swedes graded their well-being 7.6 which is one of the highest scores in the OECD (OECD). It was also reported that 85% of the Swedes experienced more positive feelings than negative ones in a day whereas this number was 74% for Russians (OECD). In Sweden, differences in education did not reflect the level of happiness; people with a tertiary education graded their life satisfaction 7.8 while those who completed primary education scored 7.6 (OECD). The respective numbers were 6.0 and 5.4 in Russia which suggests that Russians depend more on a good education to achieve life-satisfaction (OECD). Overall, Swedes seem to be more satisfied than Russians with their life.
On the surface there are several similarities between Russia and Sweden. The rate of high-school graduates is above average and both countries offer equal rights for everyone to participate in political matters. However, Swedes are in general more content with their life and put less emphasis on education to achieve life-satisfaction than Russians do. This suggests that Sweden offers a broader range of factors which contribute to the well-being. One such factor might be that Swedes have more confidence in their government than Russians. If an individual distrust his political institution he is more likely to feel vulnerable which might explain why Russians have a less optimistic view on life than Swedes. It is thus evident that a reliable government is more crucial than education for the live-satisfaction of a population.

Agranovich, Mark, Bolotov, Victor and Lenskaya, Elena. “Improving Quality of Education in Russia through Transforming Quality Assurance Systems”. Accessed 25/4-2014 Corruption perception index (2013). Accessed 24/4-2014 OECD country index, Sweden (2013). Accessed 14/4-2014 OECD country index, Russian Federation (2013). Accessed 14/4-2014 “Transparancy and Open Government”. Accessed 24/4-2014

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