This year’s standard of living index, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), world leader in global business intelligence and market insights, shows that the living conditions in cities have improved over the past 15 years. This is due to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and improved health care and education indicators in Asia, the Near East and Africa. Understandably, instability has increased because of the Russia’s war on Ukraine and civil unrest in various parts of the world.
Lithuania’s Finance Ministry and its Central Project Management Agency (CPMA) recently published a report indicating that the standard of living in Lithuanian municipalities improved by 137% rom 2013 to 2021. Although the index shows that the best standards are mostly in larger municipalities, there are also positive changes in smaller cities which are actively trying to attract more investments.
Better standards of living are of course dependent on higher salaries. Even well-developed infrastructure, educational and health services matter little to someone without a guaranteed source of sufficient income, noted CPMA spokesman Viktoras Sirvydis.
The highest standard of living for 2021 was in Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipėda, while the lowest was in the municipalities of Kalvarija, Zarasai, Lazdijai and Vilkaviškis. Vilnius has the greatest concentration of income and large businesses, while Kaunas and Klaipėda are centres of manufacturing.
Economists note that smaller economic centres are also actively seeking new investments, which was not happening 10 years ago. From 2013 to 2021, the standard of living rose by 147.5% in rural municipalities and by 133.5% in resort towns. Some think that this can be attributed to remote working due to the pandemic, with searches broadening from local centres to other regions. This phenomenon of decentralization was also seen in Sweden.
Every municipality has the potential to raise its standard of living, and this has already occurred in Tauragė, Akmenė and Ukmergė. Residents must be more active in demanding the changes they need for this to happen.
Various factors are key to improvement. Average net salaries, the number of employed among working age residents, the proportion of working-age residents to the number of registered unemployed persons, and of those receiving state support, as well as per person allotments of space and the amount of renovation done on apartment buildings.