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

Causes of Poverty in the Czech Republic
In the wake of its post-communist economy, the Czech Republic is working to revitalize its financial strategy and to become a commercial powerhouse in Eastern Europe. However, obstacles preventing the country from improving its economical state are due to the nature of its communist past.

The absence of labor markets forced the communist government to impoverish its citizens in order to sustain the state. Causes of poverty in the Czech Republic stem from the country’s political and economic background during the late 20th century and are exhibited through its complex economic struggles, faulty environmental policies and societal differences.

The Czech government enforces strict fiscal restrictions, which inhibit its economy from reaching its potential. Czechoslovakia strategizes its economy towards export-based trade to maximize external growth. This plan compromises economic security and further perpetuates causes of poverty in the Czech Republic. In order to strengthen its fiscal prospects, the Czech government must invest in its domestic demand for the sake of creating a more sustainable economy.

Instead of resourcing its environment responsibly by taking into consideration long-term consequences of pollution and resource obsolescence, the Czech Ministry of the Environment approves of policies that allow systematic ruin to the environment. This, combined with the issuing of permits without charge to large corporations (which wastes 47.5 billion Czech Korunas), deprives the Czech economy of state revenue it could utilize to fund public sectors that are desperate for financial aid.

With unemployment at 10 percent and various instances of political corruption, Czech society (which is exhaustively compromised of its middle and lower class) is distrusting of governmental figures and industry elites that dominate its politics. While the labor market of the Czech Republic is currently strong and wage increases are on the rise, causes of poverty in the Czech Republic are also contributing to fracturing the coexistence between social classes. For example, the Czech Republic’s reliance on its pension system is not ideal for economic longevity due to increasingly falling replacement rates.

If the Czech Republic is to preserve its strong labor market and to extend pensions to its citizens, it should focus on domestic market growth to meet the demands of its country from the inside out. In addition, the Czech government should focus on lessening the severity of its fiscal restrictions in hopes of liberating its economic prospects and combatting the causes of poverty in the Czech Republic.

Kaitlin Hocker

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in The Czech RepublicThe Czech Republic is in Central Europe between Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia. After World War I, the Czechs and the Slovaks of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire came together and formed Czechoslovakia. A political revolution caused the nation to split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993.

The country has since opened up to free market capitalism and has a parliamentary republic. These factors have contributed to only one in ten Czechs living below the poverty line when last measured in 2016. The Czech Republic is among the countries in the EU with the lowest rate of poverty, which has allowed hunger in the Czech Republic to be almost non-existent.

The Effects Of Hunger For Czechs
Hunger in the Czech Republic is not a primary concern for the country’s government due to its .48 percent malnutrition rate. This rate means that .48 people out of every 100,000 in the Czech Republic will die of hunger, making it one of the least hungry countries in the world.

When UNICEF last did a study of hunger in the Czech Republic, it found that hunger was not an issue that was affecting many in the nation. Currently, only two percent of Czechs under the age of five suffer from stunted growth caused by malnutrition. On top of this, only one percent of Czechs under the age of five suffer from being underweight due to malnutrition.

Babies do not suffer from hunger in the Czech Republic due to the abundance of food in the nation. When last measured, only eight percent of babies were born with a low birth weight and the majority of babies born underweight quickly grew to a healthy weight.

The Takeaway
The shift from a socialist government to a government that practices free market capitalism alongside its parliamentary republic have allowed hunger in the Czech Republic to be non-existent. For the one in ten citizens in the nation who are impoverished, social welfare programs ensure these people get adequately fed. Overall, hunger in the Czech Republic is almost a non-issue.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr