Healthcare in AustriaAustria is known for having one of the most generous and greatest healthcare systems across the world. Healthcare needs are readily accessible to Austrian citizens at little to no cost. The vast majority of the Austrian population has access to healthcare, as long as an individual is not willingly choosing to be unemployed.

Healthcare in Austria

  1. Two-tiered system: In the first tier of Austria’s two-tiered healthcare system, healthcare covers 99% of the population, of which 75% is typically funded through public taxes. However, citizens can also pay to have supplementary healthcare, which allows individuals to see private practitioners. As of 2010, it is estimated that 130,000 individuals chose to pay for private healthcare.
  2. Life-long private providers: For those who choose to pay for private or supplementary healthcare, insurance companies are not allowed to have restrictions within contracts, nor are they allowed to terminate an individual’s healthcare without permission. The private healthcare services can only be terminated by the individual, allowing the user to have access to life-long healthcare services.
  3. High accessibility to hospitals and pharmaceuticals: Despite the decline in hospital bed availability around the world, Austria has 271 hospitals containing more than 64, 000 beds and around 45,000 doctors, classing the country as having one of the highest bed/patient ratios in Europe. Along with the availability of hospitals and other health centers, the cost of pharmaceutical drugs in Austria is low. In 2012, Austria’s pharmaceutical costs were an estimated 18.6% lower than the rest of Europe.
  4. Public healthcare covers four areas: Within the Austrian healthcare system, there are four specific areas in which those who choose to have public healthcare, rather than private healthcare, can be covered: illness, maternity, precautionary and therapeutic aid. Each of these categories requires certain criteria for the individual to be categorized into one of the four areas.
  5. Tourists have access to healthcare: For those visiting Austria with a European Health Insurance Card, access to public healthcare is enabled. While this does not cover any private healthcare, it does cover basic doctor’s visits, dental services and even emergency hospital visits. This allows tourists or students who may need emergency medical assistance to access healthcare at a reduced fee.

Through this dynamic healthcare plan, Austria is able to provide healthcare and benefits for its citizens. Whether it be a simple checkup or something more extensive, Austria’s public healthcare system alleviates healthcare burdens for its people. Even for those who pay for a private healthcare plan, the cost of medical expenses is far less than many places around the world, as it is estimated to only cost $243 a month. Whether it be private or public healthcare, Austria’s two-tiered system has found itself among the highest-ranking healthcare systems in the world.

Olivia Eaker
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Austria
Although Austria has no national plan to combat homelessness, provinces like Vienna, Upper Austria and Vorarlberg strive to make advances when it comes to finding a solution. Increases in homelessness come as a result of rising unemployment and housing costs. In an attempt to mitigate this, some cities take the staircase approach —  a series of steps and services a person, who may deal with mental illness or addiction, must complete in order to live independently.

To properly place a person on the spectrum of homelessness, the government adopted the conceptual categories of “roofless” and “homeless” which the European Federation of Organizations working with the Homeless brought forth. People living on the streets or using emergency shelters classify as “roofless,” while “homeless” is the term for people living in homeless accommodations like hostels, women’s shelters or immigration centers.

Quick Facts

In 2019, the European Social Policy Network released a report discussing the ins and outs of homelessness in Austria. The organization determined that the country saw a 21% increase in people registered as homeless from 2008 to 2017. By 2017, a total of 21,567 people registered, of which 13,926 has the classification of roofless and 8,688 were homeless.

The report also noted that more men than women registered, which may be a result of “hidden female homelessness,” meaning that women are more likely to stay in a friend’s house or precarious housing. At the report’s October 2012 reference date, roughly 7,381 out of the 10,089 homeless and roofless population were men.

Vienna as a Solution

In recent years, Vienna has become a model for fighting homelessness for other cities across the globe including Vancouver and various cities in the United States and Asia. The key to the city’s success comes from its protection of open space, transit-centered development, rent control and a focus on building neighborhoods with mixed ethnic, age and income communities. On top of that, roughly $700 million goes to government-subsidized “social housing,” which shelters 60% of the capital’s population. This results in a combination of non-market and market affordable housing.

One of the plans providing opportunities for those in need in Vienna and other Austrian cities is Housing First. Through the organization, housing is the initial step, unlike the staircase program where participants must address their other problems like mental health, addiction and more before obtaining housing. Housing First’s approach is to replace traditional institutions with flats in the municipality housing sector so that people can build their lives knowing that they have a roof over their heads. Since its launch in 2012, the organization has placed 349 people in homes. As of 2016, housing stability was at 96.6%.

Another initiative called Shades Tours emerged in 2015 and gives the homeless a unique employment opportunity in Vienna and Graz. The company provides tours to the public, but rather than sight-seeing historic buildings, homeless guides show the city through their socio-political perspective giving an insight into one of three categories: poverty and homelessness, refugee and integration or drugs and addiction. Through the tours, it hopes to further educate the public about the challenges the homeless face while also providing guides with an income.

An Advocate for the Future

The Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wohnungslosenhilfe, also known as the National Association of Assistance to the Homeless, is a nonprofit that emerged in 1991 to reduce homelessness in Austria. It primarily does so by organizing national responses and a network of facilities through public relations work. Among other projects, it wants to facilitate a nationwide policy that issues subsidies to people at risk for poverty and dealing with high housing costs in an effort to promote its idea of “Living for Everyone.”

Recently the BAWO released statements urging the Austrian government to take proactive measures to reduce the possible increase of homelessness as a result of COVID-19 by freezing evictions and lengthening hours of emergency shelters. As an advocate for this marginalized population, there is a hope for the future. The BAWO’s determination to lower housing costs and create affordable, permanent housing, helps renovate a society that previously made climbing the economic ladder difficult.

With these initiatives and advocates, homelessness in Austria can look to continue its downward trajectory. As more cities and provinces dedicate additional resources towards tackling homelessness and possibly replicating Vienna’s approaches, the country can push toward record lows of registered homelessness and demonstrate a working model to the rest of the world.

Adrianna Tomasello
Photo: Flickr

6 Facts about Hunger in Austria
Austria is a European nation inhabiting roughly 8.7 million people. It is famous for being one of the most prosperous economies of the nations in the EU. The nation is highly developed with important industries being food and luxury commodities, mechanical engineering and vehicle manufacturing. The capital of Austria, Vienna, is the country’s most famous city and the most popular tourist attraction. Vienna ranked as one of the top cities in the world for global quality of living. Austria has successfully combatted hunger and continues to do so. Here are six interesting facts about hunger in Austria that explains its success.

6 Facts about Hunger in Austria

  1. About 12% of Austrian nationals are at risk of poverty while 33% of non-nationals face the same risk. In other words, Austrian natives are much less likely to struggle with poverty and hunger than those who have migrated there. This could be attributed to a number of things such as assimilation to a new culture and their food prices.
  2. Austria has been a member of the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization since 1947. The goal of this organization is to help eradicate global hunger. Austria’s contribution makes up just under 1% of the FAO’s budget, which may not sound significant but is equivalent to about $2.6 million.
  3. Austria, although industrialized, has a large agricultural population. In recent years, there has  been an increasing trend in organic farming. This trend of organic farming has contributed to the reasonable prices of agricultural products. The nation is the 14th most food-secure ranked country. Food security is a measure of available food resources in comparison to those who need it which can help explain the low percentage of hunger in Austria.
  4. Environmental protection is an extremely important item on the nation’s political agenda. This includes prioritizing the availability of clean drinking water throughout the country. As a result of implanting the EU Water Framework Directive, the water quality in Austria’s lakes raises to “excellent levels.” In addition, the EU Water Framework Directive assesses the ecological state of bodies of water for best drinking practices.
  5. Austria has low undernourishment rates compared to other nations. This means that Austrians are less hungry and the food they are eating has solid nutritional value. Specifically, about 3% of the population in Austria is going hungry while the world average of hunger is slightly over 10%.
  6. In Austria, the total of “in-work at-risk of poverty” rate is about 7.7% compares to the European average of about 9.4%. While Austria’s working-poor average is low, this population still exists and is in need of help. Additionally, this working poor population can be due to the fact that Austria did not have a mandatory minimum wage. However, the Austrian government established a mandatory monthly gross wage of $1,000 in 2008.

It is evident that Austria has done a relatively good job of keeping its citizens fed while trying to help other nations reduce their rates of hunger as well. Austria is a great example of a country that is working to keep its citizens fed and healthy.

Danielle Wallman
Photo: Flickr

Eating Disorders' Global SpreadEating disorders are often presented as a western-world problem. Portrayals of eating disorders (EDs) to the general public suggest white, middle to upper-class females are the ones mostly affected. However, ED statistics demonstrate that all races, genders and ethnic groups are susceptible. As westernization continues, eating disorders’ global spread ignites.

Eating disorders cause approximately one death every 62 minutes. Medical professionals agree this number is likely higher because many ED cases are overlooked and not recorded as the cause of death. Out of all mental illnesses, “eating disorders have the highest mortality rate.” In developing countries where mental health resources are scarce, untreated people live dangerously exposed.

Increased Risk in Developing Countries

The long term health consequences associated with EDs are brutal. Typically, in countries where psychiatric help is unavailable, general healthcare services are lacking for those below the poverty line. Furthermore, in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), mental illness is a serious taboo. Although sterilization is no longer a treatment for people experiencing mental health problems, there are still a lot of stigmas associated with them. They often lead to discrimination and prevent people from seeking help when needed. In these countries, psychiatric professionals able to help are nearly impossible to find.

In circumstances where someone living with an ED is not able to access medical assistance, the lack of access to treatment has persistent ramifications on a person’s body, such as experiencing pain caused by blocked intestines, muscle deterioration, cardiac pain, tooth decay or swollen jaw.

People living long-term with an ED have higher mortality rates. Living with an ED in a developing country is often a death sentence. Causes of death can include stomach ruptures, esophagus tears, kidney failure and cardiac arrest. To see reduced ED fatality rates, countries need psychiatric and medical resources. The number of countries that cannot provide these services advances the global spread of eating disorders.

Why Eating Disorders Occur in Impoverished Countries

The expansion and acceptance of Western culture are largely responsible for increasing ED cases around the world. Multiple studies evaluated the extent to which Westernization affects the elevated rate of eating disorder populations.

On the islands of Fiji, researchers conducted an observational study of EDs. The results of the study showed the impact of Western media. In the past, Fijians valued heavier body types as the image of beauty. When TV became commonly available in Fijian society during the late 1900s, ED rates were less than 1%. Three years later, a survey found 15% of teenage girls in Fiji vomited to keep their weight down.

An article published by the University of Columbia in the Journal of Eating Disorders analyzed Asia’s reaction to Westernization. The findings disprove the notion that eating disorders occur only in Western cultures. The article concludes by expanding the concept to all developing countries. These results strongly suggest that “eating disorders are not culture-bound or culture-specific, but rather culture-reactive.”

Westernization influences nearly every country in the world. Urbanization, population growth and newly introduced media further perpetuate eating disorders’ global spread. The most vulnerable countries are those that have little protection against virtually any form of addiction.

Outreach Combating Eating Disorders’ Global Spread

Eating disorder communities and organizations reach beyond their home countries. Outreach projects, such as international conferences, online training and collaboration between countries’ healthcare services, help protect people who are living with an ED and deprived of treatment. 

Originally the national charity Beat was solely based in the U.K. Now, Beat partners with international efforts in providing ED relief. The charity’s most well-known contribution is its international helpline service. Beat responded quickly to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, seeing helpline calls escalate by 30%. In response, Beat offers an online training course to recruit more volunteers.

The International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Foundation (IAEDP Foundation) plays a role in halting eating disorders’ global spread. The IAEDP Foundation provides high-quality ED education to international multidisciplinary groups. Core courses and certifications are available in a home study format. The goal is to improve ED knowledge amongst medical professionals so people living with EDs have more opportunities for support. 

The Austrian Society on Eating Disorders (ASED) dedicates itself to establishing a network of occupational groups with ED experience. As an international network, ASED creates guidelines catered specifically to each country’s culture. ASED encourages countries to begin scientific research in ED detection, treatment and prevention. By fostering international co-operation and education, ASED hopes to expand ED resources.

Hope for the Future

Eating disorders are complex and threatening illnesses. In the Western world, health checkups and residential treatment options, in addition to emotional and nutritional therapy, encourage recovery. However, even with these resources, ED recovery can take years; if unsuccessful, EDs may result in death. For those living in highly impoverished countries, years easily turn into lifetime struggles with EDs that could end one’s life abruptly. Luckily, outreach programs enhance efforts to bring awareness and ultimately decrease ED casualty rates. Without these promising efforts, eating disorders’ global spread would continue to permeate communities around the world.

Grace Elise Van Valkenburg

Photo: U.N. 

 

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Austria
The Republic of Austria is a nation wedged within Central Europe. Many consider its water quality as one of the highest in Europe and several NGOs are working towards bringing the nation’s economic and environmental sustainability up to par with the EU. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Austria.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Austria

  1. Since 2000, life expectancy in Austria has increased by three years. Currently, the life expectancy average in Austria is 82-years-old which is more than the OECD average of 80-years-old. However, averages between women and men differ as the average for women is 84-years-old and the average for men is 79-years-old.
  2. Despite the World Health Organization’s guideline limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 air pollutants, Austria exceeds it by 6.3 micrograms. According to a 2017 WHO publication, the fact that Austrian residents often heat with wood and coal contribute to the nation’s pollution. As a result, affected Austrians experience respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. Lower respiratory problems are the sixth highest cause of death in Austria.
  3. In order to improve the nation’s air quality, VCÖ-Mobilität mit Zukunft works to bring efficient mobility to the country. Founded in 1988, VCÖ develops projects with Austria’s decision-makers aimed at lowering emissions. Since its inception, VCÖ has produced publications arguing for climate-friendly transportation. Moreover, in 2018, VCÖ conducted a railroad test with 10,000 Austrians to exemplify that Austrian railroads need new offerings to improve the nation’s air quality.
  4. Adding to the 10 facts about life expectancy in Austria, about 92 percent of residents in Austria are satisfied with their water quality. In 1959, due to the nation’s high levels of wastewater, the Austrian federal government implemented the Austrian Water Act. The Act included initiatives that work to reduce wastewater. In order to achieve this mission, the Austrian government established monitoring programs to test the nation’s bodies of water for pollutants. As a result of running these tests and implementing wastewater purification plants and a larger sewage system, Austria reduced its waste-water and improved the nation’s water quality.
  5. When it comes to security, the majority of Austrians feel safe in their country. Around 81 percent of Austrians say they feel safe at night. Austria’s homicide rate of 0.5 ranks as one of the lowest rates in the OECD.
  6. A recent report from WHO states that the leading causes of death in Austria are cardiovascular disease and cancer. Diabetes and dementia rates have also increased and worked their way up into the top 10 causes of death. Despite the rise in various diseases, however, around 70 percent of Austrians believe the are in good health.
  7. Around 99.9 percent of Austrians receive health-care coverage. In 2012, the Federal government covered 29 percent of Austrians’ health expenditures while health insurance funds covered 44.8 percent. Given that the majority of Austrians’ have covered health care, Austrians have a strong access to health care that contributes to their health and life expectancy.
  8. Following a 2009 GDP fall, Austria’s household capacity plateaued while basic living costs increased. As a result, Austria’s impoverished population increased through 2015. Due to a lack of resources, impoverished Austrians are less likely to afford health care, and therefore, are at risk for poor health. In order to find solutions for impoverished Austrians, Austria ASAP launched in 2013 and worked toward enhancing academics’ impact on poverty. Since its inception, Austria ASAP has released publications debunking social presumptions about Austrians living in poverty.
  9. In comparison to other European countries, Austria’s public spending on health is low. In 2015, Germany and Sweden spent between 18 and 21 percent of total government spending on health care. Meanwhile, Austria only utilized 15.1 percent of its total government spending. Given the public spending is lower in Austria than in other nations, Austrians experience less financial security and are at a higher risk of impoverishment due to health care costs.
  10. Amongst the countries in the EU, Austria is below average in resource productivity. Austria produces EUR 1.79 per kilogram in comparison to the EU average of EUR 2.04 per kilogram. Therefore, in March 2018, several NGOs launched the Circular Futures Platform to transition Austria into a circular economy. The Circular Economy Action Plan mission intends to eventually put an end to lower residual waste and reduce the toxins polluting the environment and attributing to 3,000-4,000 Austrian deaths every year.

Through an analysis of increasing life expectancy and high health insurance coverage, these 10 facts about life expectancy in Austria demonstrate why the nation ranks high on the Better Life Index. With increased efforts to improve the economy and air quality, Austria can become a model nation for the world.

– Niyat Ogbazghi
Photo: Flickr

 

Living Conditions in AustriaAs a landlocked nation, Austria works closely with other countries in the European Union (EU) on different issues. Therefore, Austria has a well-developed economy that is closely tied to Germany and other powerful EU nations. Austria is a confederation of nine autonomous states with sound industrial and agricultural economic sectors. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Austria.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Austria

  1. Wealth Gap: There is a rising wealth gap in Austria. Between 1990 and 2011, the share of the economy that the poorest 20 percent held dropped by 47 percent while the share that the richest 1 percent held rose by 16 percent. Experts believe that the biggest factor in the rising wealth gap is an increasing education gap between the rich and the poor. In Austria, children with college-educated parents are 2.5 times more likely to attend college themselves. Increased postsecondary education leads to higher wages as citizens earn 5.4 percent more money with each additional year of schooling past what their country mandates.
  2. Gender Inequality: Gender differences are evident in Austrian society. While women tend to have more education, they still earn 23.4 percent less per hour than their male counterparts. Women also tend to own less property than men. On average, a single, male household holds 40 percent more wealth than a single, female household. One of the main reasons driving this economic inequality is the Austrian welfare system, which helps promote traditionalist values through its benefit programs.
  3. The Welfare System: Austria has an extensive, two-tiered welfare system. The first tier covers personal insurance for employed citizens during instances of sickness, accident, sudden unemployment and parental leave. The second tier provides for those who are struggling with employment and offers federal, provincial and municipal benefits. There are a few benefits that are accessible to the entire population including family allowance and child tax credit, childcare allowance and health insurance. A family receives the family allowance based upon the number and age of children as well as a family’s income.
  4. Health Care: Austria has a socialized health care system. The current system covers 99 percent of citizens and accounts for 7 percent of the country’s GDP. Many citizens gain insurance through their employers, but these plans identify 25 percent of citizens as co-dependents. Furthermore, access to medical care is widespread and easily available. Currently, there are 64,000 hospital beds that span across 267 different hospitals. One of the main benefits accessible to all is the Patient Safety Guide, which informs citizens of standard procedures before visits, allowing visits to doctors to be as productive as possible.
  5. Religion: Religion plays a major role in living conditions in Austria. Austria has acknowledged religious freedom as a right since the Patents of Tolerance signed in 1871. Today, the Austrian legal system qualifies itself as religiously-neutral and churches have a great deal of autonomy when dealing with internal affairs. Because of their autonomy, churches receive funding through required member’s fees. Also, the right of an individual to choose his or her own religion remains sacred. At the age of 14, citizens can choose a Church, or none at all, without parental notification or consent. As a whole, Austria is a very religious nation as 88 percent identify themselves as a member of a church (compared to 77 percent in the United States). According to 2011 statistics, 64 percent of Austrian identify as Roman Catholic, making it the largest church in the country.
  6. Education: Austrians have access to free public education. Currently, the government mandates nine years of schooling for every child and schools offer vocational and university tracks. The university tracks lead to an additional one to four years of education at a secondary or post-secondary school. All funding for the schools, at any level, comes from the Federal Ministry of Education. However, even with education opportunities, Austria still lacks in literacy scores when compared to the rest of the EU. Only 13 percent of young adults (ages 25 to 34) have achieved high scores on the Survey of Adult Skills. The reason behind this is most likely the low graduation rate among those attending secondary or post-secondary universities and colleges. While 83 percent of young citizens attend some sort of secondary education, only 38.9 percent will actually graduate. Furthermore, of those pursuing secondary education, 76 percent attend vocational schools.
  7. Water: All Austrians have access to clean water, which helps greatly with living conditions in Austria. Austria ties with 21 other countries for first in the Environmental Performance Index for water and sanitation. One hundred percent of citizens have access to improved water sources — those that have protection from outside contamination. Fifty percent of water comes from springs while the other 50 percent is from various groundwater sources. One of the main reasons for Austria’s success in this category is its adoption of the EU Water Framework Directive, which helps to set specific environmental goals regarding surface water, analyzing characteristics of river basins and the effect human activity has on water sources. All of this work has helped Austria prevent its water from becoming contaminated.
  8. Poverty Rate: Poverty rates are low but impact children the most. Only 4 percent of Austrians live below the poverty line, which is measured as half of the median household revenue of the population. Less than 1 percent of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day, meaning the majority of citizens live comfortably in Austria. However, children are the most at-risk for poverty. Around 9 percent of children live in households that fall below the poverty line. Additionally, these children are the most at-risk for bullying in schools. Many (17.5 percent) children from poor households report that others have bullied them because of their family’s income level.
  9. Crime: Crime rates remain low in Austria. As of 2016, the murder rate in Austria was 0.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. The rape rate stood at 9.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. The total number of homicides in 2016 was 57. For comparison, there were 57 in Slovakia, 65 in the Czech Republic, 202 in Turkey and 17,250 in the U.S.
  10. Cost of Living: The cost of living in Austria remains relatively low. Compared to the United States, it is 1.87 percent more expensive to live in Austria. However, rent is roughly 30 percent cheaper in Austria. In comparison to the EU, Austria falls somewhere in the middle. The average salary is roughly 1,900 euros per month, which ranks in the top 10 of all the EU. Common items and transportation prices are also middling in comparison to the EU. For example, a bottle of water tends to cost 2.09 euros, which is in the middle of the 1.20 to 2.50 EU range. Local transportation, like buses and taxies, costs roughly 2.40 euros. This is toward the higher end of the 2.20-2.50 EU range, but still not incredibly expensive.

These top 10 facts about living conditions in Austria give an insight into what life is like for its citizens. Those who live in Austria have easy access to health along with a wide variety of social benefits. As a whole, Austria is a stable nation with a strong economy and a healthy population.

– Andrew Edwards
Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Austria

Water quality is important to any community, as it prevents illness, promotes the economy and ensures that citizens are healthy. Austria is considered one of Europe’s most water-wealthy countries, and the water quality in Austria is excellent. Austria witnesses on average 1,100 mm of precipitation each year. 50 percent of the drinking water in Austria comes from groundwater and the other 50 percent comes from springs.

Austria is ranked number one in the Environmental Performance Index (tied with 21 other countries) for water and sanitation. 100 percent of people in Austria have access to drinking water and sanitation. Drinking water sources are improved, meaning they are protected from outside contamination, in 100 percent of both urban and rural areas.

Despite already having high rankings for water and sanitation, Austria has also implemented efforts to improve its environment and water quality. One of these is The Environmental Impact Assessment Act of 2005, which assesses the effects that planned projects will have on the environment and its inhabitants, both humans and animals. The program has resulted in the water quality of Austrian lakes to rise to commendable levels.

Austria also implemented the EU Water Framework Directive, amending the preexisting Austrian Water Act. Meant to ensure quality water for EU citizens, the directive is meant to set specific environmental goals regarding groundwater and and surface waters, analyze the characteristics of river basins and the effect that human activity has on them and prevent further deterioration of aquatic ecosystems. The goal of these actions is to make access to quality water secure and sustainable, maintain and restore the near-natural state of bodies of water and to prevent contamination of water.

Along with stellar water and sanitation levels, Austrians also enjoy a ranking of eight out of 178 countries for overall Environmental Performance Index with a score of 78.32 out of 100. With its already good conditions and continued commitments to improve them, Austria is a model to the world of how to provide clean water to a country’s citizens.

Téa Franco

Photo: Flickr

Education in Austria

Education is always essential regarding the success of the social and economic future of a country, and education in Austria is no exception. The Republic of Austria has a free and public school system, and nine years of education are mandatory throughout the nation from the ages of six to fifteen, or first to ninth grade.

In Austria, there are multiple levels of education for citizens of all ages. When it comes to children ranging from the ages of zero to six, these students are taken care of in nurseries called Kinderkrippen. Kindergarteners range from the ages of three to six years old, and very young children that are usually around the age of two are looked after in small groups by day parents called Tagesmütter, and are found mostly in smaller towns and rural areas.

The first four years of schooling is completed at primary schools called Volksschule or Grundschule. From the age of ten, children are able to attend a junior high school or a secondary school called Hauptschule or Cooperative Mittelschule. Once children have entered into ninth grade at the ages of 14 or 15, they will be schooled at a polytechinical school called a Polytechnische Schule, which will ultimately prepare students for vocational orientation, an apprenticeship or even for more schooling.

Education in Austria does not stop at grade nine, however. There are many apprenticeships that students can pursue, and about 250 apprenticeship training courses exist that last between three and four years. Their occupation is learned on the job and at the school simultaneously. These students will then go on to take a final exam and become either a skilled technician or craftsman.

There are also Austrian universities and colleges that a citizen can attend, including adults. The Matura is a graduation examination that is a prerequisite for higher education in the nation.

While the standard of education in Austria may not exactly be on par with that of the United Kingdom or the United States, those considering relocating to Austria can still expect for their children to receive a sound education. Overall, the quality of education in Austria is quite good, as state schools provide a schooling that is very high in comparison to other educational systems within Europe.

Sara Venusti

Photo: Google

Human Rights in Austria
While holding a position as a peaceful and democratic society, Austria‘s human rights record still leaves something to be desired. On the one hand, Austria chooses its leaders in free and fair multiparty elections, and freedom of the press is alive and well; however, there are still many complex institutional problems with human rights in Austria.

In 2008, there were several reports of excessive force by police, societal discrimination against Muslims, Jews and members of unrecognized religious groups, violence against women and children and human trafficking. In addition, several isolated incidents were reported of neo-Nazi and xenophobic extremism towards members of minority groups.

Complaints of police ill-treatment towards minorities are still often met with insufficient investigation and action both by the police and the judicial system. In a study done by the Vienna-based EU Fundamental Rights Agency, over 50 percent of immigrants and minorities believe that Austria has a widespread problem of discrimination.

Going hand in hand with this sentiment, racial profiling is also a major threat to human rights in Austria. For example, in 2009, the Viennese police based a large-scale operation almost entirely on racial profiling; after a string of burglaries, the police carried out searches of all houses known to be owned by people of Georgian or Moldovan origin, all without any grounds of suspicion.

This comes along with several other incidents of police discrimination around the same time, including the killings of a Chechen asylum seeker and a Sikh religious leader, both of which were under-investigated. It was later revealed that in both cases the Austrian police had ignored warnings or requests for personal protection.

This police mistreatment can even go so far as torture, as in the case of Bakary J., a Gambian citizen who was tortured by three Viennese police officers in 2006 when it became apparent that he was residing in the country illegally.

While authorities were at fault for failing to implement safeguards against torture and have not revised any official protocol, the Disciplinary Appeal Commission decided to fire two of the three officers involved and cut off the pension of the third.

Since these incidents, human rights in Austria have come to the forefront of the country’s consciousness. In 2011, Austria was officially elected as a member of the Human Rights Council by the U.N. General Assembly. With this new membership, Austria pledged to combat threats to women’s rights, failure of law enforcement and human trafficking. Also, there is a priority for protection of freedom of religion and the protection of religious minorities.

These are important first steps but, like many countries, Austria still struggles with racism and the role of police. Through these conflicts, the country will work to improve human rights for all its citizens.

Audrey Palzkill

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in AustriaAustria is a nation with nearly 8.7 million citizens that lies in the center of Europe. In 2015, Austria was deemed one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Because of this large statistic, only four percent of the population fall beneath the poverty line. Consequently, the poverty rate in Austria very small.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the poverty rate is the ratio of the number of people whose earnings fall below the poverty line. The poverty line is half the median household revenue of the total population. The World Factbook shows poverty is on the minor end of the spectrum in Austria but, despite low percentages, continues to exist.

Children 17 years old and younger are most affected. A 2016 OECD report shows that 9.1 percent of Austrian children live in a household with a disposable income of less than half of the Austrian median income. This number was seven percent in 2007. It is also interesting to note that among children living in Austria, 17.5 percent say that they have been bullied in the last two months. This is the second highest share in the OECD area.

In an evaluation of Austria’s well-being for 2016, the country performed close to the OECD average. Austrian households have higher net adjusted disposable income and experience lower work insecurity.

However, The Economic Survey of Austria of 2017 shows Austria is struggling to adjust towards digitalization. Digital transformation is altering the relationship between the wealthy and the poor. Well-educated people are adjusting quickly to global trends in technology, while older generations, the less educated and immigrants are falling behind. This creates unequal opportunity within the country and raises questions about those on the lower end entering the future workforce.

While Austria continues to struggle with growing child poverty rates and the digital era, 94.4 percent of Austrians are satisfied with the quality of water and air in the region. In regard to support, 92.5 percent of Austrians report having friends or relatives that they can rely on in times of trouble.

Based on economic status and results of well-being, the poverty rate in Austria can be drastically reduced. A possible solution to Austria’s largest problems could be an increase in the state budget for welfare assistance. The State could also create support structures for children being bullied or coming into school systems from low-income families. Equal opportunity and digital training must also be available for anyone entering the workforce so that older generations, the less educated and immigrants don’t get left behind.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr