Sunday, November 26, 2023

Are ex-Soviet states super safe?

I came across the chart shown while reading an article from The Economist. The article was investigating China's claim to have achieved extremely low crime. The graphic is derived from this report, from the Institute for Economics and Peace. The graphic shows that Uzbekistan has the highest "safety perception index," which I thought was unexpected. When I think of safe countries, Uzbekistan, and basically any other low income country does not come to mind. 

Uzbekistan may in fact be a very safe place to live. The safety perception index measures "experience" and "worry" indices. In each of those, they track five domains: food and water, violent crime, severe weather, mental health and workplace safety. Uzbekistan measures very low in three of the "experience" categories, namely violent crime, severe weather, and mental health. Note, a low score is positive. But Uzbekistan does not have comparatively low scores in any "worry" domains, which is very interesting. 

Moreover, research on the conduct of surveys in Central Asia, and in Uzbekistan in particular, has found that respondents tend to feel pressure and wariness about how their responses might be used against them or the political leadership of their countries. At the same time, there are reportedly strongly held cultural beliefs that “garbage should not be taken out of the house for public display”.

Today's learning is a little bit inconclusive. There is no way to definitively define Uzbekistan, or any other country, as the safest country in the world. However, it is interesting to know that Uzbekistan can score highly.