Child Poverty in Austria
The Republic of Austria is a landlocked nation located in Central Europe. With its rich history and picturesque mountain views, Austria is a well-traveled country in the European Union (EU). Nevertheless, child poverty in Austria is a topic of discussion for many officials and leaders in the Central European nation. In 2019, approximately 372,000 Austrian children and youth younger than 20 years old lived in households vulnerable to social exclusion and poverty. These children, in particular, are more likely to be deprived of opportunities and basic needs in comparison to wealthier households. As such, organizations aim to address child poverty in Austria.

4 Facts About Child Poverty in Austria

  1. Roughly 6.2% of Austrian children live in conditions of relative poverty. About 33% of Austrian children “live with at least one person” who is a migrant. In this case, it is notable that poverty disproportionately affects the migrant population. Other children in impoverished conditions come from large families or single-parent households.
  2. Austria has a particularly high number of child refugees. In Austria, “1,751 unaccompanied migrant children applied for asylum in 2017.” Austria takes in many migrant children from the Middle East and from other war-torn areas of the world. Vienna, the capital of Austria, funded a program for unaccompanied minors coming to Austria, particularly trafficking victims.
  3. Child trafficking is rife. The United States Department of State’s 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report for Austria specified that a Vienna-based program offered legal, psychological, social, language and medical assistance to victims, including child trafficking victims. Though this program did not work in practice, it still aided NGOs and other organizations that advocate for children, migrants and asylum seekers to better identify trafficking victims. Therefore, this initiative still aided the overall global human trafficking crisis, with a particular focus on children.
  4. Rising child poverty rates. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which began in Paris, France, is an organization with various member countries that have commitments to world trade and overall economic progress. It reported that children from Austria are relatively better off when looking at the organization’s average poverty numbers, though these numbers are deceptive. Despite this fact, in 2015, the OECD reported an increase in the number of Austrian children living in relative poverty, even though the country is performing relatively well according to OECD standards.

SOS Children’s Villages

Several organizations aim to address child poverty in Austria. One such NGO is SOS Children’s Villages. The organization’s founder, Hermann Gmeiner, was an Austrian citizen. Gmeiner established the organization in the Austrian town of Imst, Tyrol, in response to the growing number of children suffering “without parental care in post-war Austria.” The organization works with children and families to tackle child poverty worldwide. SOS Children’s Villages has a large presence in Austria, with various initiatives like family strengthening programs, support for children who do not have adequate parental care and accommodation for refugee children. Over the last seven decades, SOS Children’s Villages has improved the lives of more than 4 million children worldwide.

With organizations committing to reducing child poverty in Austria, there is hope for Austrian children to look to a better and brighter tomorrow.

– Rebecca Fontana
Photo: Flickr

Austrian Development Agency Assists South Caucasus
Poverty is an unfortunate way of life for many people living in the South Caucasus, a region that includes the countries of Armenia and Georgia. As of 2018, about 23.5% of Armenia’s population was living below the poverty line. For Georgia, the most recent statistics from 2019 show that 13.3% of its population lived below the poverty line. However, despite the hardships that poverty brings for the people living in the South Caucasus countries, there is a glimmer of hope. Beginning in 1988, the Austrian Development Agency assists countries in the South Caucasus. With this assistance, Armenians and Georgians will have the tools they need for a better life.

Objectives of the Austrian Development Agency

The Austrian Development Agency follows three core objectives: fighting against poverty, working to guarantee peace and protecting the environment. The agency funds and oversees numerous programs intended to address these three objectives. The agency has used a total of 550 million euros to help fund current projects. However, the Austrian Development Agency does not carry out its objectives alone. Often, it partners with other institutions, such as the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.

The Austrian Development Agency’s Work in Armenia

About 68% of the Austrian Development Agency’s funding for Armenia goes to the agricultural sector alone. The reason the agency provides so much funding to Armenia’s agriculture is that over a third of Armenia’s population has employment in that sector. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the agricultural sector of Armenia began to suffer. The agency is assisting Armenia by providing funding, knowledge and machinery to promote agricultural productivity.

The Austrian Development Agency’s Work in Georgia

The Austrian Development Agency assists the South Caucasus country of Georgia as well. The agricultural sector employed more than half of all workers in Georgia. The agency helps Georgia’s agricultural sector by providing modern agro-technologies and teaching agro-management techniques. In addition, the agency is trying to promote democratization in the country, using the standards of European institutions to promote democratic values.

The Austrian Development Agency is also working to preserve the forests that cover 38% of Georgia. Forests prevent erosion, maintain the climate and store necessary amounts of water. The agency is promoting sustainable forest and watershed management through education.

Progress in South Caucasus Countries

The Austrian Development Agency assists the South Caucasus countries of Armenia and Georgia in several different ways. It aims to boost residents’ productivity in the agricultural sector, in turn boosting the countries’ economies. Furthermore, in Georgia, it aims to protect forests and to circulate democratic values throughout the country.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Austria
According to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is a human right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution. The number of refugees around the world has doubled since 2010, from 40 million to 79 million in 2019. During the Syrian War, where nearly 1.3 million migrants sought asylum in the E.U. in 2015, Austria became a crossing point. At the peak of the crisis, 89,000 people applied for asylum in the country, though it only accepted 15,000. The relationship with refugees in Austria is paradoxical in nature. Even though the country has accepted more refugees in the past few years, animosity toward these refugees is rising. These refugees face difficulties integrating into the Austrian society, forcing them into the outskirts of society and into poverty. At the same time, several initiatives continue to help support these refugees in creative ways.

The History of Relocation

In the past century, Austria experienced three main waves of refugees. The first came after 1945, where 1.6 million Jews, Hungarians, Romanians, Yugoslavians and German Poles escaped persecution from Germany. Only about 19% of these refugees stayed permanently in Austria. Another wave of 180,000 Hungarians, Czechoslovakians, Poles and Jews from the Soviet Union sought refuge in Austria in the 1960s. Only 10% of the Hungarian refugees stayed. The last major wave occurred in 1981 after the Polish Solidarity movements caused the country to become unstable. About 66,000 of the estimated 160,000 stayed in Austria. The last major wave came to Austria in 2015. That year, 89,000 mainly Syrians, Afghani and Iraqi applied for asylum.

Though Austria received international aid to handle the influx of refugees, the public still called refugees ‘ungrateful.’ Critics accused refugees of taking away jobs and housing from native-born Austrians. Since 1956, Austria has considered itself a place of first arrival and transit, but not as a place of resettlement. When the first 2015 refugees came, Austrians were welcoming toward the newcomers, waiting at the borders with supplies and support. Three years after the Syrian refugee crisis, public opinion shifted dramatically. It polarized, negatively affecting the relationship with refugees in Austria. The legislative election of 2017 brought a right-wing majority to the Austrian federal government, cementing the feelings of animosity toward refugees. By 2018, three years later, most 2015 refugees were still waiting on the results of their applications. Refugees coming to Austria face several problems, from the moment of their arrival to their integration at the economic and social levels.

Arrival

For Austrian authorities to consider a person a refugee, that individual must prove they are fleeing from persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. The Austrian police determine this during an interview with the potential refugees. There are, however, several ways to redirect these asylum-seekers in Austria. Under the Dublin Regulation, if a migrant does not receive asylum, they must go back to their country within six months. Austria also has a ‘fast track’ procedure that speeds up the asylum process when a migrant comes from a country that the government considers to be ‘safe.’ The historical mindset of sending people back immediately puts potential victims of human trafficking at risk. Moreover, gay people who come from countries that Austria considers ‘safe’ are at higher risk when they have to return to countries they fled. This is because these countries may prosecute queer people and women (who authorities do not question separately from male relatives).

According to the UN, host countries have a duty of care to identify the vulnerable situations of each migrant. In Austria, however, the identification methods are ‘random and unsystematic,’ where intervention occurs only when the vulnerabilities are visible or the asylum seekers state them themselves. This diminishes the rights of migrants to individual assessment, limiting their access to counseling, rehab and health services.

Economic Problems

Just over 1.2 million people in Austria were in danger of falling into poverty. While poverty threatened 39% of people with migration backgrounds in 2018, this percentage was 50% for people from non-European lands. Without these jobs, refugees are often at risk of falling into poverty. In 2019, 11% of people in poverty were from foreign lands, compared to 6.4% of Austrians. In total, 64% of people with migration backgrounds had employment. Syrians had the highest unemployment rate at 61.8%.

Access to the Austrian labor market as a refugee has limitations, especially before their claims for asylum have received acceptance. Even with diplomas from their home countries, Austria does not always recognize these diplomas. In 2016, about 22% of people with migration backgrounds were overqualified for their jobs.

Other major barriers to entry include discrimination, lack of social capital (both between members of the same ethnicity and with Austrians) and unfamiliarity with cultural nuances of how the host country’s labor market works. According to Amy Dudgeon, who has worked for more than 27 years with refugees and immigrants in New Orleans, Louisiana through Catholic Charities, a religious organization that provides immigration and refugee services, “The number one thing is the language barrier.”

Social Problems

The relationship with refugees in Austria is especially troubling in social integration. There is a rising intolerance for refugees in Austria. Though 41% of the population in 2020 agreed that Austria should help refugees, this is down from 51% in 2018. About 61% of the population also saw the coexistence of refugees and Austrians as ‘bad.’ Refugees themselves felt the discrimination. In fact, around 73% of people felt that their skin color, accent or where they come from caused them to face discrimination.

Finding Creative Solutions

These problems are not separate. In fact, there exists a causal link from social integration to labor market integration. When refugees create relationships within their ethnic communities, they can overcome their initial isolation and heighten their chances of getting their first job. Even better job opportunities open when refugees form relationships with people from Austria, as Austrians have insider and cultural knowledge about navigating the local labor market and job-searching process.

As Dudgeon pointed out, “I’ve met so many different people in so many different vocations in their home country, and then they come here and they can’t speak English so they have to do menial jobs. Just keeping an open mind, that just because they can’t speak English … it’s not an indicator of their intelligence or experience or anything like that.”

After two years, the employment rates of refugees start to converge with Austrian-born and other migrants. After seven years, they are as likely to receive employment as non-European migrants. The following organizations have found ways to aid refugees in Austria.

Organizations Helping Refugees in Austria

  1. Caritas: Caritas is one of Austria’s largest emergency help organizations of the Catholic Church. It has more than 16,000 employees, 50,000 volunteers and thousands of projects a year. Projects range from combatting homelessness to caring for young mothers. To support refugees, the organization offers “Lerncafes,” where children from 6 to 15 can receive free help for completing homework or learning German. Through interactions with both local volunteers and other refugees, these refugee youth learn how to integrate more fully into society. Additionally, these interactions prepare them to enter the job market.
  2. The Austrian Integrations Fonds (ÖIF): The ÖIF is an organization that the Republic of Austria and UNHCR created in the 1960s to help manage the influx of Hungarian refugees. Today, the organization helps all migrants integrate into Austrian society. One of its main targets is language learning with a focus on integrating refugees into the job market. To reach this goal, the organization offers free German-language lessons. The lessons range from beginner to advanced, with special courses involving business-specific knowledge. In 2017, the Austrian government spent 25 million Euros to support this organization, which allowed it to offer 20,000 spots to new language learners.
  3. CoRE Project: Beginning in 2016, this project brought together five partners, from NGOs to local governments. Together, they worked on a holistic approach to integrating refugees in Vienna, Austria, home to the largest number of refugees in the country. The project focused on empowering refugees by offering volunteer activities for them to take part in. By finding them places to volunteer, the project fought social exclusion, racism and intolerance. All the while, the refugees built personal and professional skills and competencies. Volunteering ensured that integration was a two-way street: refugees were able to give back to the country that took them in, making them equal citizens. Some volunteer organizations include Deutsch ohne Grenzen (German without Borders), which offers German language courses, free time activities and workshops around the topic of immigration.
  4. Refugees for Refugees (R4R): Refugees have been running this organization for refugees since 2015. The 150 members of R4R form events and activities that members can take part in, bringing refugees together through sport and culture. The organization, for example, regularly visits museums to help refugees integrate themselves into Austrian society.
  5. OLIVE: To help refugees and people of asylum status connect their previous professional and academic experience to their new lives in Europe, the University of Vienna offers free academic, bilingual non-degree programs. Some branches of the program include OLIVE Women and OLIVE Youth. These branches feature relevant seminars for each group to help them achieve both academic and professional goals.

Though the relationship with refugees in Austria is paradoxical, these five initiatives prove that Austria is beginning to decrease the discrimination that refugees in Austria face today.

Charlotte Ehlers
Photo: Flickr

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