CIPE created the Knowledge Hubs for Democratic and Market Transition project with the financial support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to build a broader consensus around reform priorities in Ukraine, Tunisia, and Bolivia — three countries undergoing democratic transitions that have experienced serious political and economic challenges over the last decade. To help coordinate business and civil society efforts on reform and improve understanding among stakeholders, the initiative has supported surveys in each country on popular perceptions of the economy and economic reform.
Though Ukrainian economic growth had been faltering since the Great Recession during which the economy shrank by 15%, the war with Russia which began in February 2022 has devastated the country’s key pillars of the economy, its assets, and resources. The full-scale destruction of infrastructure in cities and towns in the industrial Southeast will have incalculable consequences for many years to come. An unprecedented reconstruction plan and number of resources from international community will be needed to help Ukraine rebuild itself.
One positive dimension of this near-future prospect is Ukraine’s vibrant entrepreneurship culture and business creativity, evident over the last decade. CIPE’s work in Ukraine before the war was to engage these entrepreneurs, the business community, and civil society to inject fresh thinking into a stagnant and divisive public debate over economic reform. To help coordinate business and civil society efforts on reform and improve understanding among stakeholders, CIPE adapted the survey questionnaire (used in Bolivia and Tunisia) to the Ukrainian context and hired SUP, a leading Ukrainian research firm, to conduct a survey on public perception of economic reform. As in Bolivia and Tunisia, the questionnaire covered themes such as economic growth, the government’s role in the economy, inequality, COVID-19’s impact on society, and the private sector’s contribution to the recovery.
The results of the survey, conducted in the fall of 2021, brought to light the complex and challenging dynamics of reform in Ukraine. Most of the respondents in the survey were pessimistic about the overall direction of the economy, blaming the political process, slow pace of economic reform, and the armed conflict with Russia. But the war—despite the tragedy and destruction it has brought on the country— has also created a strong unity among Ukrainians as they mount a fierce resistance to the invasion. This unity among various stakeholders will be crucial for economic reconstruction once armed hostilities cease.