The Czech Republic is a Parliamentary Republic bordering Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia. The country was founded on January 1, 1993, following a political revolution, and peacefully splitting from the former Czechoslovakia. In 2020, the Czech Republic ranked as the eighth safest country in the world. The country also reports a 2.4% unemployment rate and healthy GDP growth over the past five years. The latest Eurostat data also shows that the Czech Poverty rate is 3.4%, the second-lowest rate in the EU. However, the well-being of the Czech Republic’s citizens may decline as a threatening drought continues to plague the country and coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poverty & Hunger in the Czech Republic

In a 2017 study, the Czech Republic Hunger Statistic was 2.5%. This means that 2.5% of the population’s food intake was insufficient to meet basic dietary requirements. Meanwhile, the World Hunger Statistic is around 11%.

Despite the Czech Republic’s success in the fight against poverty, the country has some areas of weakness. For example, the Czech Republic’s wage gap is larger than other European countries. Women tend to earn about 22% less than men. As a result, a disproportionate number of women, especially single mothers, fall below the poverty line.

Additionally, the Czech Republic’s relatively low poverty rate of 3.4% is somewhat misleading. The poverty rate considers the standard of living within the Czech Republic. Sociologist Daniel Prokop uses Luxembourg to exemplify why this can be misleading: “the median [income] in Luxembourg is twice as high as in the Czech Republic. Therefore, the poverty line is twice as high, making it easier for low-income workers to fall below it.” So, countries with higher median incomes have a higher standard of living. Since the Czech Republic has a lower relative poverty threshold, an impoverished citizen in Luxembourg may not be considered impoverished in the Czech Republic.

Working Through a Long-term Drought

The Czech Republic is experiencing the most threatening drought in 500 years. The drought began in 2018, and it escalated to a climate crisis in April 2020- right in the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a fear that the continuation of the drought in the Czech Republic will cause mass famine.

Scientists are using an ESA satellite to monitor the drought and soil conditions, keeping the country’s agribusiness sector stable. Well-organized agricultural systems are preventing major catastrophe in the present. Yet, crop yields are expected to continue shrinking in the upcoming months. The biggest concern, however, is the impending water shortage. The Ministry of Environment in the Czech Republic has implemented over 15,000 projects across the country to build pipelines for drinking water, preserving dams and reservoirs and much more.

COVID-19 Impacts

Thankfully, the Czech Republic has handled COVID-19 wisely from the start. They were the first country in Europe to issue a mask mandate, sending the notice on March 19, 2020. So far, there are no significant deviations from normal malnutrition and poverty rates due to the pandemic. Despite a couple of recent clusters in the eastern parts of the country, heavily populated cities such as Prague (population: 1.3 million) are seeing consistently low infection rates as of late July. Many citizens’ lives have returned to normalcy, with schools and buildings re-opening and commerce flourishing.

Tomorrow’s Outlook

Organizations ranging from small local projects to large NGOs are working to combat poverty and hunger in the Czech Republic as the drought and COVID-19 continue. For example, the Prague Changemakers organizes volunteering projects by recruiting local citizens. Together, they cook and distribute food to the local homeless population.  Additionally, Naděje is an example of a larger NGO. Naděje was founded in the 1990s following the revolution and their organization’s goal is to serve the homeless. Naděje began by serving food in railway stations. Soon, the NGO expanded to building homes and shelters across the country. For their first major project, Naděje established day centers for the homeless to get food, creating two hostels for men and one for women.

Ultimately, responsible governmental action and the work of NGOs like Naděje have provided stability to the Czech Republic in an uncertain time. Hopefully, their work in the Czech Republic will continue to keep COVID-19 and the drought under control. It seems other countries should take notes as unemployment, hunger, and poverty rates remain relatively low in the Czech Republic.

Ruhi Mukherjee
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has a population of about 10 million people. About 11,000 of these people experience homelessness. However, due to a lack of data collection, this number is inaccurate. According to the Expert Group, which the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs created, around 100,000 people were homeless or at risk of homelessness as of 2017. The government has stepped in to help prevent homelessness, but the current policies in place are not sufficient to reduce homelessness in the Czech Republic.

Current Policies and Issues

Policies are in place to prevent individuals and families from losing their homes. An act on assistance in material need came into effect in 2007. This act regulates how the government provides assistance and assures basic living conditions to people in homeless situations. Additionally, the system serves as motivation to active effort for ensuring a means to meet basic necessities in life and to prevent social exclusion.

According to the act, municipal authorities are responsible for providing benefits in a few ways. One way is an allowance of living. This covers cases of material need that tackles the insufficient income of a person or family. Furthermore, beneficiaries have an entitlement to an allowance of living if the person or family’s income is less than the amount of living after the deduction of reasonable housing costs.

A second way is the supplement of housing. This tackles cases where the income of the person or family including the allowance is insufficient in covering housing costs. A third way is extraordinary immediate assistance. This goes to low-income persons who find themselves in situations that require immediate solutions. These situations might include a serious threat to health, natural disasters, not having enough resources to cover essential expenditures, not having enough resources to cover basic necessities for dependent children and persons at risk of social exclusion. The act helped about 1.2 million people receive benefits in its first year of implementation.

Services for the Homeless

There are services available to help people manage homelessness. These services include hostels, day centers, halfway houses and outreach programs. Day centers offer people emergency assistance, meals and facilities for personal hygiene. Moreover, they distribute clothes and organize cultural and educational programs. However, hostels have proven to be a problem. Owners of hostels have taken advantage of people by up charging their services. Furthermore, the conditions are also substandard and unsanitary.

Additionally, homelessness in the Czech Republic faces a lack of funding for services. Regional and national authorities co-manage the current system of annual calls for proposals. This means that homeless people are reliant on unstable funding sources. As a result, facilities have shut down over time due to the lack of funding.

How the Czech Republic Plans to Tackle Homelessness

The government plans to tackle homelessness with four sets of goals in 2020. The first set of goals involves access to housing. This includes the standardization of state support for public housing and creating a functioning system of homelessness prevention. The functioning system supports formerly homeless people who obtained housing so they do not lose their homes again.

Furthermore, it supports the implementation of tools to enable the transition of people from being homeless to entering housing. It is also working toward more effective use of the existing instruments of the system’s benefits, the reinforcement of the coordinating and planning role of municipalities within extended powers in relation to people in an adverse housing situation and the creation of supporting instruments for implementing those roles.

The second goal has to do with social services. Social services will better respond to the needs of homeless people and people at risk of losing their house in adverse social situations. The third set of goals relates to access to healthcare. This plan is to increase accessibility, create possibilities and focus on prevention with comprehensive healthcare for homeless people. Additionally, this goal also includes raising awareness to the general public, healthcare workers and social service workers to de-stigmatize homeless people.

The final set of goals involves awareness, involvement and cooperation. This plan is to create a network for retrieving information that is concentrated in municipalities. It has extended powers focused on homelessness among relevant stakeholders working with homeless people. This will fulfill conditions for statistics, records, communication, mobility of homeless people and the use of social services. In addition, the plan is to create an effective system of primary prevention through training, education and awareness-raising.

How NGOs Have Helped the Homeless

Homeless people in the Czech Republic often rely on NGOs for assistance. IQ Roma Servis is an NGO that implemented a project called the Housing First concept that provided housing for more than 400 families in the Czech Republic in 2016. The project had a municipality in Brno provide flats to families who previously lived in a form of a homeless shelter. Moreover, families also received intensive case management and a substantial housing subsidy.

A study occurred to understand the effects of this project. As a result, the study found a decrease in the time families spent homeless and found an improvement in housing security. Other positive outcomes include an improvement in the mental health of mothers, decreased use of emergency health services, decreased sickness in children, better social integration of the parents, improved financial security in households, decreased feelings of social anomaly and improvement in overall quality of life.

The government has a long way to go to prevent homelessness in the Czech Republic. If the government provides additional support and organizations to help the homeless population, it should be able to provide aid to more than 100,000 citizens who are at risk.

– Jackson Lebedun
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in CzechiaAccording to the European Consumer Health Care Index of 2019, the Czech Republic’s healthcare system is ranked 14th out of the European Union countries. The European Consumer Health Care Index attempts to provide a ranking based on the perspective of the consumer. Some measures used to determine this perspective include “patient rights and information, access to care, treatment outcomes, range and reach of services provided, and prevention.” In fact, according to the Index, healthcare in Czechia is more successful than initially expected, considering the small amount spent per capita.

Healthcare in Czechia

The Czech Republic spends around 7% of its GDP on healthcare. Other funding comes from employees and employers who pay toward the healthcare system. Anyone who works for a Czech employer has health insurance. The Czech Republic government makes contributions on behalf of the unemployed, so coverage is essentially universal.

Aside from employee-funded and government-funded public healthcare options, the Czech Republic also offers an option for private insurance. The differences between the public and private healthcare systems can be significant. For instance, common problems with the public system include very long wait times for patients, tired and overworked doctors and a lack of English-speaking doctors. These are common issues in public healthcare systems, to which some countries have responded by offering a more expensive but private option, as the Czech Republic does.

Coverage for All

When comparing healthcare in Czechia with other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, the Czech Republic stands out as a “star performer.” Its high ranking is attributed to healthcare accessibility, cost-effectiveness and lack of corruption.

The idea of universal healthcare in the Czech Republic dates back to the 18th century, when the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Joseph II built hospitals and organized ways for everyone to have healthcare. By 1900, most European countries had state-subsidized healthcare. The Czech Republic, which was then part of Czechoslovakia, had one of the best healthcare systems in Europe even then.

In an article published by StarTribune, author Bonnie Blodgett explores what she considers to be the most important aspect of Czech healthcare: the idea of “self-administration.” Blodgett dates this back to the year 1989, when the Czech Republic government began to emphasize a bottom-up, instead of top-down, decision-making process.

A prime example of “self-administration” in Czech healthcare, aside from the ability to choose public or private, is doctors’ incentives to practice medicine. In the United States, being a doctor is a well-paying job. As Blodgett points out, some Americans may enter medicine with a primary interest in the financial incentives. This is not the case in the Czech Republic. Instead, doctors and nurses enter the profession to make sick people healthy. This is incentivized by the government, which gives and withholds money based on medical results.

Problems with the Czech System

The system of “self-administration” is not perfect. Many Czech doctors and physicians have threatened to leave the Czech Republic to work in a different European country that will pay them higher wages. Additionally, some critics of the Czech system worry that the government’s insistence on keeping public healthcare as affordable as possible risks turning healthcare in Czechia into a two-tier system. Interestingly, Blodgett points out that many Americans travel to Prague to undergo surgery because of how inexpensive the procedures are compared to in the United States.

Despite potential problems for the Czech Republic’s healthcare system, the country’s determination to keep healthcare affordable and accessible for all citizens is commendable. For now, the Czech Republic remains one of the most affordable and well-ranked healthcare systems in Europe.

Lara Smith
Photo: Flickr

debt in the Czech RepublicThe Czech Republic is a country cradled in Central Europe and is a member of the European Union. Despite its membership in the EU, the Czech Republic opted out of adopting the Euro in favor of keeping its own currency, the Koruna (CZK). Formerly a communist country in the Soviet Bloc, the Czech Republic adopted democratic market-oriented policies following the Velvet Revolution in 1989. With this shift toward free markets and an industrial economy, the Czech Republic experienced a credit boom in the early to mid-1990s. Unfortunately for Czech households, with rising credit comes rising debt in the Czech Republic as well.

A Closer Look at Debt in the Czech Republic

After shedding the yolk of communism in 1989, the Czech Republic embraced free-market policies focused on industrialization and the growth and privatization of business. Deregulation ensued, with particular focus placed on unshackling the banking and lending industries.

Following the credit boom of the 1990s, a reform on the lending system in 2001 provided the opportunity for a slew of private bailiffs to emerge to collect debts racked up throughout the spending boom in the previous decade. These private debt collection agencies often employ aggressive strategies to enforce repayment. The private bailiffs often pursue debts regardless of the debtor’s ability to pay. They utilize brutal strategies for recollection such as freezing bank accounts and siphoning earned income. They even enter into debtors’ homes to seize property.

How Debt Destroys Opportunity

Currently, 863,000 Czechs face at least one seizure order. This means, due to the current legal framework, their income above a certain minimum amount can be forcibly redirected towards debt repayments. This represents roughly 10% of the current population of the Czech Republic.

Personal debt in the Czech Republic can become financially crippling for many people. Those with outstanding debts have their income siphoned away to pay the interest. This leads many to enter into the black market to find jobs which would not disclose their income. This expansion of the black market is exacerbating a labor shortage within the Czech economy.

People who accumulate even small debts such as those from telephone bills may face compounding debt traps. This is a result of poor financial literacy and loose regulations on lenders and financial institutions. In addition, there are laws that make bankruptcy declaration extremely convoluted and difficult. This legal and institutional framework of the Czech debt system regressively places an undue burden upon the middle and lower classes to pay debts which they cannot afford. Thus, it stifles economic mobility and magnifies the financial hardships faced by the Czech people.

Finding Ways Out of Debt in the Czech Republic

Fortunately for many within the Czech Republic, various government and non-government solutions are being implemented. Financial literacy is critical when navigating the complex landscape of personal debt, which is one of the main services that Czech nonprofit People in Need provides. People in Need offers debt advisory services to Czech citizens to help them understand financial planning, borrowing and repayment of loans. People in Need also helps debtors legally defend themselves from unjust collections strategies as well as petition for bankruptcy. This can be an important tactic for alleviating debt in the Czech Republic.

The Czech government is also aware of these systemic issues. As of 2017, Parliament has debated bills addressing these strict policies regarding seizures and bankruptcy. Since the early 2000s, the law allows companies to better collect their loans by paying collections agencies. These agencies can cause the fees owed by debtors to skyrocket, potentially over ten-fold. This is due to costly collections processes as well as fees collected by the agencies. Both the government as well as nonprofit organizations like People in Need are working on ways to lower fees. They also work to expand access to the possibility of bankruptcy and more generous debt relief.

Conclusion

The Czech Republic serves as an important case study in national debt policy. Even a relatively rich country in Europe can still place undue financial burdens on its lower classes through inadequate lending laws and aggressive privatization of the credit industry. The work being done by nonprofits and the government should act as an example in reforming household credit markets and hopefully create a more just and forgiving landscape for lenders within the Czech Republic.

– Ian Hawthorne
Photo: Flickr

 Sanitation in Czech Republic The Czech Republic, or Czechia, is a bordered country in Central Europe with a population of 10.69 million. Around 98% of the population has access to sewerage systems which the country has carefully manufactured so that the water is clean and safe to drink right away. Even some of the people with lower social and ethnic status have access to this water. Here are nine facts about sanitation in the Czech Republic that detail how its sanitation has evolved.

9 Facts About Sanitation in the Czech Republic

  1. Clean Water Access: In 2017, calculations determined that 98% of the population had access to clean water. Since Czechia is a landlocked county, all of its water flows out of the country and into neighborhoods. New water sources are dependent on the atmosphere’s participation. Drinking water is dependent on ground sources which are based on hydrologic basins.
  2. Health Care: With highly qualified staff in hospitals, private care is usually more expensive than regular public health care. Many of the private hospitals are more equipped to work with patients and have a service-oriented approach to medical care. This allows patients the advantage of getting medications faster. Although it takes longer to receive medical treatment in public care, some health care workers speak English. This serves as a high advantage to expats and hospitals that receive heavy subsidies, however, hospitals are equally accessible to all insured persons. The health care system also offers mental health care through inpatient facilities. With healthy sanitation, the hospitals are better equipped and have a high rate of patient recovery especially with good water sanitation.
  3. Soil Sanitation: With good precipitation and weather changes, the growing season is in good condition and produces quality vegetation. Growing quality produce keeps the population healthy and the precipitation helps prevent the spread of diseases.
  4. Sanitation in Schools: Kids in the Czech Republic have good sanitation in schools, and because of this, they have actually encouraged other schools to improve their hygiene. The Czech Republic Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia provided support to the Girl Friendly Schools: improving sanitation, hygiene and health education in the Cambodia project in 2018. To date, this project has helped 2,415 students in 12 different schools gain higher quality sanitation.
  5. Waste Sanitation: Czechia has a waste problem. Households do not produce as much garbage as the U.S. but still need some improvements considering that most waste comes from schools and neighborhoods.
  6. Waterborne Illness: Between 1995 and 2005, only 33 outbreaks of waterborne illness occurred, affecting a small amount of the Czech Republic’s population. Only 27 outbreaks of unsafe drinking water caused them, coming from sources like pools and mineral water springs. There were reports of some small cases but no serious cases seem to have occurred.
  7. Food Safety: A microbiological compliance test on food supplies occurred in 2018 and showed that 146 batches were unsafe for human consumption. The foods that this test found unsafe were mostly vegetables, dairy and meat products. About 67 catering facilities shut down because of poor hygiene. Since the country still must make progress to ensure food safety, it is discussing laws to help improve food safety. These laws will make it easier to control food safety and ensure that catering businesses meet standards going forward.
  8. Sustainable Development of Sanitation: The Czech Republic ranks as the seventh most developed country. Because Czechia has always had clean water and overall decent sanitation, the country has fostered sustainable communities and maintained healthy economic growth since the beginning, causing it to rise in the rankings. It has already met one of the goals for the SDGs (sustainable development goals) and is on track to complete more. The country hopes to meet more goals by 2030.
  9. Safely Managed Sanitation Services: In 2017, four out of 10 people used sanitation that was safely managed. In 2015, 3.4 billion people used a safely managed sanitation service in comparison to only 2.1 billion in 2000. Though some areas still lack managed sanitation, safe sanitation services serve most of the population.

These nine facts about sanitation in the Czech Republic show how the population has gained quality sanitation. There are still areas that are in the process of improvement. In general, the country’s sanitation is in good condition and is safe for both citizens and visitors.

– Rachel Hernandez
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Czech Republic
In the European Union, the Czech Republic ranks second in terms of the risk of its population falling below the poverty line. A record low of 3.4% of the Czech Republic’s population is at risk of poverty according to Eurostat data. This is in comparison to the average of 10% of the European Union’s population that poverty threatens. With that in mind, here are five facts about poverty in the Czech Republic.

5 Facts About Poverty in the Czech Republic

  1. The Czech economy has been on an upward trend, which has helped young people. The improvement of the Czech economy has helped reduce the poverty rate in the country. The GDP growth rate and unemployment levels are among the best in Europe. The unemployment rate for the country was 2.9% in 2017, which ranks among the top tier in the world. The GDP growth rate of 4.4% in the Czech Republic is among Europe’s best and the GDP rose to $245.2 billion in 2018 in comparison to $186.8 billion in 2015. This has benefited young employed Czechs between the ages of 18 and 24, of whom only 1.5% were at risk of poverty in 2017. With a high labor shortage, this in turn has increased the wages young Czechs can attain.
  2. Women are at a higher risk of poverty. The Czech Republic has one of the highest wage gaps between men and women. On average, a Czech woman’s salary is 22% lower than her male counterparts. Women on a pension and single mothers are the two groups that poverty in the Czech Republic most affects. Mothers who come back from maternity leave often see a reduction in pay after returning to work, up until age 50. Women, who on average live six years longer than their spouses, often see a rise in their expenses after the death of their spouses.
  3. Education plays an important role. Education plays a large role in determining poverty status in the Czech Republic, especially among youth. Children whose parents are relatively low-skilled and low-educated are one of the highest at-risk groups for poverty in the E.U. However, children of the well-educated in the Czech Republic are among the lowest risk for poverty in the E.U. Because of the risk of poverty from their parents, some children struggle with living in adequate housing while trying to maintain their education. For those children who struggle to finish their education, SOS Children’s Villages will assist them with job training and living facilities.
  4. Measures that the new government introduced have helped. The new administration, which took power in 2014, has undertaken reforms to increase social welfare and attract financial investment. These reforms have improved the living conditions in the country which have played a role in reducing poverty. The Czech Republic also introduced an online tax reporting system that should increase revenues and decrease tax evasion. The economic reforms have resulted in a budget surplus (1.6% of GDP in 2017) and a decrease in unemployment from 6.1% in 2014 to 2.9% in 2017, as well as increased GDP per capita by over $2,000 from 2015 to 2017.
  5. Housing costs are expensive. For two straight years in 2017 and 2018, the Czech Republic had the least affordable housing in Europe according to a study by Deloitte Property Index. The average Czech worker will have to work 11.8 years in order to have enough money to be able to afford a home. This was the highest figure in the study and 59% higher than the average. Factors relating to the housing market include lack of new apartments on the market, regulatory measures by the Czech National Bank and public sentiment. However, some cities like Ostrava do have affordable housing and housing is becoming more affordable in other cities as well.

These five facts about poverty in the Czech Republic highlight a few key points. New government measures have helped in the fight against poverty as well as the growth of the Czech economy. Young people have been doing extremely well in the country which has helped bring the overall poverty rate down. However, the nation can still do more work in the fight against poverty, especially in terms of helping female workers in the country and making housing more affordable. Overall, one can be optimistic about how the Czech Republic is taking further steps to reduce poverty in the country.

Zachary Laird
Photo: Flickr

5 Celebrities Fighting the Water CrisisIn 1989, spurred by economic stagnation and political discontent, the Velvet Revolution ushered in a post-communist, democratic era in the emerging states of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. In the late 1980s and 1990s, along with the rest of the Soviet-aligned states, the authoritarian regime of Czechoslovakia had begun to collapse. Popular unrest, which had been repressed for decades, boiled over into nonviolent revolution. The outcome of this uprising was a transition to democracy. November 2019 marks the 30 year anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. To commemorate this moment in history, House Representative Peter Visclosky introduced a resolution to Congress. Here are 9 facts about the Velvet Revolution.

9 Facts About the Velvet Revolution

  1. The Velvet Revolution began on Nov. 17, 1989, when a peaceful, government-sanctioned ceremony to commemorate Czech-resistance against the Nazis erupted into a massive protest against the communist regime. Ten days after this demonstration, anti-communist activists led a two-hour general strike to show the popular support for the opposition. By the end of the year, democratic activists forced the communist regime out of power and instituted a democratic regime in Czechoslovakia.
  2. An important precursor to the Velvet Revolution was the Prague Spring of 1968. In the Prague Spring, Alexander Dubcek, then-leader of the communist party in Czechoslovakia, created major social reforms, including a free press and human rights. However, Soviet leaders in Moscow feared such reforms and sent Warsaw Pact troops to suppress the upheaval. This Soviet crackdown erased the 1968 reforms and significantly restricted the economic and political rights those reforms sought to grant, such as freedom of speech. Even though the Soviets successfully suppressed the political unrest, civil resistance prevented them from being able to gain full control over the country for eight months. Thanks in part to the Prague Spring, Czechoslovakia had a strong civil society and history of nonviolent resistance by the late 1980s. Thus, the Velvet Revolution was a result of long-term developments and movements rather than one immediate catalyst.
  3. Ratified by the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly on Nov. 11, 1975, the Helsinki Final Act was one of the key structural factors that allowed for democratization in Czechoslovakia. It forced the communist leaders of Czechoslovakia to abide by the human rights commitments made in the agreement. A failure to do so would mean breaking with Moscow, something the Czech regime could not afford to do. The Act gave activists the ability to form organizations such as Charter 77 because they could claim the group’s purpose was to assist the government in carrying out its new policy on human rights.
  4. Charter 77 was a civic initiative that laid the groundwork for the Velvet Revolution. In the first week of 1977, anti-communist activists, former communists and non-political intellectuals came together to form Charter 77. It was a group of activists working to hold the government accountable for its human rights record. Charter 77 demanded that the Czech government abide by its own human rights commitments in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. Václav Havel, one of the leaders of Charter 77, became president of Czechoslovakia following the Velvet Revolution.
  5. Gorbachev’s reforms of Perestroika and Glasnost also set the stage for broader political reform in Czechoslovakia. Perestroika, meaning restructuring, was a set of political and social reforms, which Gorbachev set in motion throughout the Soviet Union. Perestroika led to the decentralization of the Soviet economy and the loosening of the communist party’s grip on power throughout the Soviet bloc. Similarly, Glasnost, meaning openness, legalized criticism of the communist government and allowed for a free press.
  6. The Civic Forum (CF), a successor to Charter 77, was created in the immediate wake of the Velvet Revolution’s protests on Nov. 17. A nonviolent coalition, CF professed itself to be non-political and allowed anyone who wanted to be a member to join. It organized large grassroots demonstrations, including one in which citizens clinked their keys to signal the end of the communist regime. Along with Charter 77, CF was the most important organization during Czechoslovakia’s transition to democracy.
  7. One of the central social movements in the Velvet Revolution was the student movement. Nov. 17, the day the Revolution began, was International Students’ Day, and Prague students filled the streets of the city in what turned out to be a massive anti-regime protest. In the coming days, students around the country began striking and speaking out against the regime on an almost daily basis. A committee of Prague students worked with the Civic Forum to organize the general strike on Nov. 27.
  8. The Civic Forum and its allies achieved even greater concessions than initially asked for. On Nov. 29, the communist regime struck down a clause in the Czech constitution that permitted a one-party rule. In the coming days, the Czech people voted in free elections for the first time in three decades. The first non-communist Parliament since 1948 was formed on Dec. 10 of that year. On Dec. 29, the Czech parliament unanimously elected a democratic president.
  9. In June 1991, the Soviets withdrew the last of the Soviet Central Group of Forces from Czechoslovakia. On July 1, they terminated the Warsaw Pact. The fall of the Soviet Union gave Czechoslovakia more independence and confidence to turn westward. Elections in June 1992 set the stage for a break between the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic as both agreed remaining together was not economically profitable. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split in what was called a “velvet divorce.”

H.Res. 618

On Oct. 4, 2019, House Representative Peter Visclosky [D-IN-1] introduced H.Res. 618. The resolution congratulated “the peoples of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic on the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution” and the progress that each country has made in gaining independence. The House referred the resolution to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which will debate the resolution before it is brought to the entire chamber.

The Czechoslovakian Velvet Revolution of 1989 catalyzed the process of democratization in the Czech Republic and Slovakia through a nonviolent, popular uprising against an oppressive regime. Civic society and grassroots movements were essential to this revolution. Thus, these 9 facts about the Velvet Revolution prove the importance of civic protest to change a society’s political, economic and social culture.

Sarah Frazer
Photo: Flickr

1- facts about life expectancy in the czech republic
The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is home to more than 10 million people who thrive on the country’s successful market economy and readily available health insurance, which has benefited both their income and life expectancy. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in the Czech Republic.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in the Czech Republic

  1. Since 1960, the overall life expectancy for Czechs has steadily increased, starting at roughly 70 years in 1960 and reaching 79 years by 2017. Statistics from 2017 showed the highest life expectancy rate in Czechia thus far. The annual rate for life expectancy first increased in 1968, reaching 0.93 percent by 1998. The numbers then decreased to 0.57 percent in 2017, and appear to have remained constant since.
  2. The average life expectancy differs between men and women in the Czech Republic. As of 2018, the average male lives 76 years, while the average female lives to the age of 82.
  3. This increase in life expectancy is mainly due to modern medicine, healthier lifestyles and a cleaner environment. In fact, most elderly men and women in Czechia now only suffer health troubles toward their last few months of life.
  4. The Czech Republic’s market economy has one of the highest GDP growth rates in the European Union, as well as an impressively low unemployment rate of 2.9 percent in 2017. This statistic has led to an increase in salaries, allowing more people to afford better health care services and living environments.
  5. The death rate, maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate are all fairly low in Czechia, allowing for steady growth in population and life expectancy. These rates are due to the improved health care system that the country introduced in the early 1990s, which completely reconstructed clinics and created a new health insurance policy that encompasses multiple standards and categories of health care.
  6. Since 2014, the Czech government has introduced political reforms in an attempt to attract investment, lower corruption and improve social welfare, which in turn may benefit living conditions for the populace. The National Strategy to Combat Corruption weeded out several corrupt officials in the government and law enforcement. In addition, bribery has gone down in the market, as the state no longer controls consumer goods and services. Since people have more control over their economy, the health care the government provides is more affordable.
  7. In 2007, Czech Radio addressed life expectancy, claiming that living in Prague, the nation’s capital, would increase one’s lifetime by five years.
  8. Czechia’s senior citizens receive quality care with various organizations and activities to provide for them. One such organization is Senior Praha, which presents the elderly with equipment and operation of home health care, social and health care, medical equipment and health and beauty spas, among many other things.
  9. The Czech Republic has kept its citizens healthy with its improved health care system. Statistically, 99 percent of the total population has received improvements in sanitation facilities, and there have been less than 100 deaths from HIV/AIDS.
  10. In 2009, the most common and frequent cause of death was circulatory system disease, with the second most frequent being malignant neoplasms. Now, the Czech Republic has a significantly high vaccination coverage—more than 97 percent in all pertinent immunization categories—and a system that provides health insurance to the vast majority of the population.

In short, these 10 facts about life expectancy in the Czech Republic are a testament to the country’s successful health care reforms and improvements. The country’s success in business and marketing has also benefited the affordability of its health insurance. If the Czech Republic continues at this rate, its people may see another rise in their overall life expectancy.

– Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Line Breakdown
Over three billion people live on less than $2.50 per day, showing that poverty remains a top global issue. Every country has a poverty line, which is the level of personal or family income below which one is considered poor by government standards. While there are a handful of countries with extreme poverty, there are others that have maintained the poverty line within their country.

Poverty Rates

According to the Huffington Post, factoring poverty rates is a mixture of art and science. When coming up with a country’s poverty line, the measurement of wealth and distribution has to coincide with the cost of living rates or price purchase parity adjustments. In other words, someone who may be perceived as poor in the United States can be considered wealthy in another country. The global quantification of extreme poverty is categorized differently than middle- and upper-income countries.

Countries with the Highest Poverty Line

  • The Dominican Republic of Congo: Despite the most recent decrease in DRC’s poverty rate, 71 percent in 2005 to 64 percent in 2012, the DRC remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The United Nations has estimated that 2.3 million people living in the DRC are poor and living in refugee camps. Due to the detrimental political corruption, the people of DRC continue to suffer for minimal necessities. The nutritional statistics of DRC are extremely low and health conditions are severe. Stunting, wasting, immunization coverage, drinking water conditions and diseases are just a few examples of matters that need to be taken seriously to solve these conditions.
  • The Central African Republic: As of 2008, the poverty rate for the Central African Republic stood at 66.3 percent and not much has changed. Although this is a healthy decrease from 84.3 percent in 1992, a majority of the countries’ population lives on less than $1.90 per day. To many, the Central African Republic may appear to be the land of diamonds, but it remains one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world. With a low population count of five million people, most of them are living without food, sanitation and decent housing. Every year, the Central African Republic only brings in $750. The Central African Republic’s issues reside from civil conflict, diseases and lack of infrastructure for schools and jobs. With minimal annual income, jobs are scarce and in high demand.

Countries with the Lowest Poverty Line

  • Finland: With a low poverty rate of 5.5 percent, Finland has one of the lowest poverty lines in decades, although the risk of poverty for many residing in Finland is the highest it’s ever been. There’s a secret to Finland’s success story: employment, education and parenting take priority. In addition, Finland is committed to improving education and healthcare. It is generous with welfare and possesses a low infant mortality rate, good school test scores and an extremely low poverty rate. Finland is considered the second happiest country on earth, falling second to the United States.
  • The Czech Republic: About 9.7 percent of the Czech Republic’s population live below the poverty line. Of all the European Union member states, Czech has the lowest amount of people threatened by poverty. In comparison to the average rate of 17 percent for the eurozone, Czech is doing pretty well for itself. Czech’s high-income economy is primarily based on the revenue it receives from its auto industry. This still remains its largest single industry, accounting for 24 percent of Czech’s product manufacturing. Czech’s wealth is due to its successful trading system.

Poverty lines will continue to be a global issue until countries ally to reduce the gap in socioeconomic status. Without the rich, there would be no poor. Even within impoverished areas of the world, there are different levels of poverty and what one can afford. Unity and prioritizing citizen’s needs is a necessity to promote change in poverty lines.

 – Kayla Sellers 

Photo: Flickr

Czechia Poverty RateThe Czechia poverty rate continues to rank among the lowest in the EU. At 5.9 percent, the eastern European nation, which shed its English moniker of “Czech Republic” early in 2017, beat out such neighbors as Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Italy and Spain, all of whom have rates exceeding 10 percent.

In the OECD, Czechia ranks behind only Denmark in terms of poverty rate, which measures the amount of families living below a country’s poverty line. In Czechia, that number is 10,220 crowns (about $431 USD) per individual and 21,461 crowns (about $906 USD) for families with children.

Based on population-weighted estimates drawn from household surveys, the poverty rate is not necessarily a perfect benchmark for comparison between nations. Indicators are specific to each country’s economic and social circumstances, and a variety of factors influence perception of poverty.

However, other metrics tell the same story of a robust quality of life within Czechia. Not only is the Czechia poverty rate one of the lowest, the nation’s wealth inequality outperforms other high-performing countries. Only 22 percent of Czech income is held by the wealthiest 10 percent, lower than the U.S., China, Indonesia and Chile, who have rates of 30.2, 31.4, 31.9 and 41.5 percent respectively. The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, is a relatively low .26 for Czechia, and unemployment lingers at an impressive 3 percent as of 2017.

Explanations for the country’s favorable economic indicators are many. Czechia has an excellent education track record, with enrollment standing at 99.75 percent. Government funds have been redirected to education over the past decade, while decreasing in other sectors such as infrastructure. Public reform following the 2008 global economic crisis saw a VAT hike and reduction of social welfare benefits, but included significant tax discounts in other sectors of the economy and pensions that nearly doubled.

Though these factors have aided in suppressing the Czechia poverty rate, conditions for the majority of employees are not necessarily as complimentary. As average Czech wages increase, they still remain substantially lower than the EU median. An average wage across industry of $23,003 USD reflects Czechia’s tough minimum wage, which remains one of the lowest among OECD nations. The country’s main source of income comes from engineering and machine-building industries, which accounts for 37.5 percent of the economy. With a popular tourist destination for a capital, services bring in around 60 percent of Czechia’s wealth.

Forecasts predict a sustained pace of economic growth but slowing rates of employment. Inflation, which jumped from 2016 to 2017, is expected to decline as debt continues to diminish post-recession. It remains to be seen whether or not the trend in Czechia’s low poverty rate will continue.

Mikaela Krim

Photo: Google