UnitedLife 06

Born lucky in Slovakia

Vedeli sme sa narodiť

Peter Bobik
Consultant
Bratislava, Slovakia

Were we born lucky? Is Slovakia a good place to live? Can it be considered good luck to be born in Slovakia? The answer is more or less a matter of economic statistics; a field pleasurable to me which I enjoy very much. I believe that the given question has exact answers. At least it corresponds with vox populi. When I open this discussion with my college students, their view is desperately depressing. They all tend to have a view where being born in Slovakia is considered almost a great tragedy. Have we lost our way, hypnotized by greed and information age? Let us take a closer look. I will share my contribution to this discussion. I would start with the following:

 

Pedro, a student of Polytechnic in Sao Paulo, Brazil, sits with a sad face in his boarding school room. He is shocked by the death of his classmate who was shot. Number of homicides per capita is about 24-times higher in Brazil than in Slovakia. Brazil, Latin America’s economic hegemony with almost 200 million inhabitants is experiencing its golden age. Economically speaking it has been developing rapidly and has gained confidence in the past decade. Brazilians do not consider themselves poor. World Cup and the Olympics are only the icing on the cake demonstrating the country’s economic strength. Brazil’s GDP per capita is only half compared to our country.

A university student in Peking, Li, is enjoying his free day. He doesn’t have to go to school today. He was in school six days in a row, though. Li is one of the best at his university. If he shows great effort, he might be able to study abroad. He hopes to succeed. He will be the first one from his family who will travel beyond the borders of his homeland. He is dreaming about Europe. China is vigorously developing economically, it is the new superpower. The income per capita amounts to a little more than a third of a Slovak income. In the country of the Dragon, a working week lasts six days. Only a minor fraction of population travels to study abroad while one in seven students from our meadows and groves studies abroad. With 15% of students abroad, Slovakia ranks third in EU, outnumbered only by Iceland and Luxembourg.

In Mumbai, the economic center of India with the highest GDP in country, Rajes is enjoying a cup of tea in his new apartment. He moved from the slums, his children will go to school… to move here from rural areas was a good decision. He was not hungry for a long time, he hardly even remembers that. Mumbai is a good place to live. India has been hit by a beneficial economic monsoon in recent decades. Yet it still amounts to less than a fifth of GDP per capita compared to Slovakia. Here under the Tatras, the ratio of food expenditure to total expenditure makes up about 20%, similarly to Western Europe. At the same time, if an average family decides to buy a new apartment with an average mortgage, the cost will be less than a quarter of their income. Complicated? Yes, but in a good way. It means basic expenses such as housing and food make up less than half of an average family spending. In most of the world, this is considered welfare.

In Lagos, Nigeria, with 170 million inhabitants, a stevedore goes to the cinema to see a movie. Then he stays to have one beer, just to have fun. He is in excellent mood and feels very satisfied. The way he sees it – he has a fantastic life. Lagos today is blossoming, 15 million inhabitants, an economic boom, a new Africa. These are the golden times. It has never felt so good. Nigeria became unprecedentedly rich in the past 15 years, annual growth rate since 2008 exceeds 8%. Famine is only like a distant memory from past century (technically speaking, it was indeed the past century). Average per capita income in Nigeria is less than a fifth compared to Slovakia.

In the largest city in Texas, Houston, high school student Joe has just finished enjoying his Halo game. He played on the internet with someone from Central Europe. He was quite good. He tucks his new iPhone into his back pocket and takes off to have a burger with his buddies where he moans about his studies. He was going to study in London for 6 months, but it probably won’t be possible since it seems to be outside the financial options of his family. Well… US is a very rich economy with a GDP per capita exceeding 50,000 dollars in purchase power parity, Texas being the second richest state of the country.

Vedeli sme sa narodiť 2

 

In Bratislava, Miro has just finished his Halo game on the internet with someone from America. The guy over the Atlantic was not so good. He tucks his new iPhone into his back pocket and is on his way to have a burger with his buddies. They are going to give him a few tips for his half-year exchange semester in London, since he is leaving next Monday already.

It’s really about time that he gets out. Nothing ever goes on here… Slovakia’s GDP is close to reach thirty thousand, a level Austria reached in 1989. Miro would say „mission completed“… if he knew what he was talking about.

So where do we stand? Were we lucky? Economic statistics offers a simple answer. If you roll the dice and get a six, that’s luck. Stars have been even more generous to you in this game of life. Six people are being born in a worse economic environment and only one in a better one than the reader of this article. Being a Slovak citizen has economic advantages. I am stuck in a traffic jam on my way to work. In front of me stands a Bentley, behind me a Porsche and I am not even counting the Audi which I am passing by. It must be a very poor country. It must be only because those Porsche and Audis are manufactured here.

 

Peter Bobik



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