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THE CASE OF A RESILIENT CITIZEN IN 2009 GDP fell almost by a fifth Unemployment tripled Salaries were cut by 20-30% A number of small schools and hospitals closed or merged Taxes noticeably increased

THE CASE OF A RESILIENT CITIZEN IN 2009 Yet there have been no major social protests The government was not ‘punished’ in the parliamentary elections; The crime rates have not increased substantially, And in late 2009, cautious optimism began climbing up again People who relied on themselves

May, 2009 September, 2008

State responsible for people wellbeing

May, 2009 September, 2008

47% 42% 36%


VERY SURPRISING AGAINST THE BACKDROP OF... Population shrinking by one sixth in 20 years, birth rates staying very low; losing 1% of workers due to emigration. Trust level to the government, public institutions and wider society two times lower than that of the neighbours (trusted on average twelve people), 70% of population not involved any organisations in 2007. Weak social capital further exacerbated by the post-soviet heritage of deep skepticism towards collective initiatives.

Self-help networks, mutual exchange ‘shops’, retreat to local barter exchange. Smaller schools become social and community centres, women entrepreneur organizations taking over some care, support and information ‘services’ New forms of economic activities emerging – farmers’ markets near shopping malls, creative spaces movement to revitalize empty office space in downtown, street corner fairs. Example of e-library established in late 2008. Initially to help disabled people access books, then used by a wider population, competing with National Library in content digitalization; now a founder of the newly formed Baltic culture portal. 44% ready to participate in voluntary local environment cleaning activities.



Citizens’ self organization has been one of the key social factors that made necessary but draconian austerity measures politically possible. Yet it has clearly been a reaction to the crisis, rather than expansion of previously existing forms of communal organization. Challenge has been not so much lack of creativity as the lack of ‘citizenship skills and competences’. To be able to expand and develop sustainable citizens’ initiatives, targeted and focused public investment in skills/competences development and

Small population, Big Society…?  

Roberts Kilis, PhD, Chair of Strategic Analysis commission

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