YEREVAN, March 26. / ARKA /. The number of Armenian citizens living outside the capital city Yerevan who spoke for the introduction of a mandatory pension scheme is almost twice the number of residents of Yerevan who also backed the controversial pension reform, according to the findings of a public opinion poll conducted at the initiative of the Pension Reform Implementation Program (PRIP), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
According to the survey, about 40% of provincial population backed the introduction of the new pension scheme, while in Yerevan only 21 percent of respondents endorsed it.
The survey was conducted by AM Partners Consulting Company in December 2013, in the run-up to the entry into force of the new pension scheme. It involved 1,200 residents of Yerevan (42%), Ararat province (31%) and Kotayk province (24%). Some 63% of respondents were women and 47 % were men.
"We have no explanation of this discrepancy. Perhaps, the provincial population still looks with hope to the future, while residents of Yerevan are more skeptical,” Hasmik Ghukasyan, USAID PRIP team leader for the development of human and institutional capacity, said to ARKA.
The study revealed also that that people's opinions changed as they obtained more information about the details of the new pension system, however 63% of respondents did not consider the pension reforms justified, explaining it by distrust in the government, high unemployment rates and low wages.
The survey also found out that 86 percent of population had general information about the reform and the level of awareness among men and women was virtually identical (85 % and 86 % respectively). Slight difference was observed in urban areas (89%) and rural areas (80%). The awareness has increased significantly since 2010 reaching 86 % versus 36% in 2010.
According to the study, 62% of respondents did not believe the reform is effective and that they would get back their savings when they retire; 21% did not consider their contributions to be their own money any longer and about half of the surveyed population did not have any information about their funds managers.
Asked about the goals of the pension reform, 26 % of respondents could not give specific answers, 18 % indicated a desire to ensure a prosperous old age, while 12% said the reform was a new form of robbery of the population.
According to Hasmik Ghukasyan, the findings of the survey will be used to develop a strategy to inform the public and to identify tools for information providing.
According to another public opinion poll, conducted by Gallup International Association in February this year among 1,066 adult residents of the Armenian capital, more than 88 % of respondents did not support the new pension scheme. -0-