Three-Decade Evolution of the Willingness to Defend One’s Own Country: the Case of the Baltic States
Volume 18, Issue 1 (2020): Lithuanian Annual Strategic Review 2020, pp. 195–220
Pub. online: 1 December 2020 Type: Article Open Access
1 December 2020
1 December 2020
This article provides the most comprehensive analysis of the willingness to defend one’s own country in the similar, yet different, Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. It reviews the previous research focussing on regularities explaining the willingness to defend the country. This article proceeds with mapping the results of the previous sociological research from the three countries and discusses the results of a nationally representative poll conducted for the purposes of this research. The previous and current data suggests that Estonians are more likely to defend their country, while Latvians and Lithuanians are less keen to do so. In a wider regional and global context, the willingness to defend one’s own country is high in Estonia but low in Lithuania.
Several hypotheses on regularities are tested in the Baltic case. It is affirmed that on the inter-societal level, growth in life opportunities tends to have a negative effect on the willingness to defend one’s own country, though it cannot explain the correlation of fluctuations in both indicators. On the intra-societal level, it is affirmed that men are more likely to defend their own country. While the empirical data in relation to two of the Baltic States confirm some other hypotheses, such as those related to trust in the armed forces, the impact of external threats, and historical experiences, there is no conclusive support in all three regarding other factors like trust in the government, religiousness, conscription, age, nor education on the individual level. That underlines the role of various factors, interaction thereof and their different effect on people’s willingness to defend their countries.