Estonian economist Andres Arrak writes in an opinion article in Delfi that Estonians like to compare themselves with other European nations and to measure their economic success or failure.
For instance, a comparison of GDP per capita shows that Europe’s richest country in 2011 was Luxembourg with USD 81,100, while Finland’s figure was USD 36,700 and Estonia’s was USD 20,600 per person.
Estonians are finding only a small consolation in the fact that Lithuania’s figure was USD 19,100 and Latvia’s one was even smaller, at USD 15,900.
Does it mean that the living standard of Estonians is four times lower than that in Luxembourg and twice lower than in Finland?
Of course not - anyone who travels knows that living standards in Baltic states, Finland and Luxembourg are not so vastly different.
But why people north and west of Estonia earn several times more for same type of work? Why so-called economic refugees keep leaving Baltic states to become nurses, doctors, bus drivers or construction workers in the West?
One thing that has always struck me is that for some reason Estonians still look down to Russians who live in Tallinn’s Lasnamäe and in 1970s or 1980s moved to Estonia from the rest of the Soviet Union for exactly the same reason.