Czechia

   

Social Policies

#21
Key Findings
With a generally effective social system, Czechia receives middling scores with regard to social policies (rank 21). Its overall score on this measure remains unchanged relative to 2014.

Educational outcomes are good overall, though Roma children are often shunted to lower-quality schools. Tertiary attainment rates are rising, but remain low. While income inequality and poverty rates are low, the Roma population is marginalized overall, and municipal and social housing is a problem in some areas. A lack of affordable housing is becoming a problem.

The health care system, based on universal compulsory insurance, offers high-quality services, though spending has declined as a share of GDP. Women’s employment rates are below the OECD average, especially for women with small children. Child-care provision is a problem, exacerbated by the growing number of single mothers.

The pension system is in surplus, with only moderate sustainability concerns. While the inflow of asylum seekers has been modest, the EU refugee crisis has triggered a highly polarized debate on migration, with very few citizens supporting rules that would allow refugees to settle permanently in the country.

Education

#29

To what extent does education policy deliver high-quality, equitable and efficient education and training?

10
 9

Education policy fully achieves the criteria.
 8
 7
 6


Education policy largely achieves the criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Education policy partially achieves the criteria.
 2
 1

Education policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Education Policy
6
Public expenditure on education relative to GDP has increased since the economic crisis and is slightly above the EU average. While the educational mobility of children with a non-academic background is limited, educational outcomes and the employability of graduates with a secondary education are good. One problem, however, is the low tertiary education attainment rate. While it continues to rise, the 32% national target won’t be met until 2020. The early school-leaving rate remains among the lowest in the EU, but regional disparities are significant and the rate has been increasing steadily since 2010. It currently exceeds the 5.5% national target for 2020. A particularly vulnerable group are Roma. Around 25% of Roma children are educated in “special schools” (populated almost exclusively by Roma), before being placed in so-called practical schools with lower learning standards.

The new Babiš government has continued the policies of the Sobotka government and has increased teachers’ wages. However, the low salaries of Czech teachers and school heads remain an issue and have fostered the feminization and aging workforce of the education sector. Low salaries in tertiary education have made it difficult to recruit and retain high-quality staff.

In the period under review, the absorption of EU funds in education improved. The 2018 targets of the operational program on research, development and education were already met at the beginning of November. These targets included achieving an increase in high-profile scientific publications, improving the mobility of scientists, deepening educator training, and increasing the number of school assistants and afterschool activities.

Social Inclusion

#14

To what extent does social policy prevent exclusion and decoupling from society?

10
 9

Policies very effectively enable societal inclusion and ensure equal opportunities.
 8
 7
 6


For the most part, policies enable societal inclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 5
 4
 3


For the most part, policies fail to prevent societal exclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 2
 1

Policies exacerbate unequal opportunities and exclusion from society.
Social Inclusion Policy
6
Due to a favorable employment picture and a still rather redistributive social policy, income inequality and poverty in Czechia remain among the lowest in the OECD and the European Union. However, a growing proportion of the population are affected by the harsh legal process for punishing individuals who default on debt repayments. Under a law introduced in 2001, a court can order tough repayment requirements including confiscation of property, with a few exceptions such as wedding rings, which is then sold off to reduce the debt. The numbers required to comply with orders from a court grew by 3.4% in 2017, reaching 863,000 individuals. There are also substantial differences between regions and ethnic groups that have not been eliminated despite at the fact that they have been recognized by at least parts of past governments. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs investigated areas of social exclusion in 2014-2015 and found 606 such areas with 95,000-115,000 inhabitants. These areas of social exclusion are defined as ones of any population size in which more than 20% of inhabitants live in inadequate conditions. In these areas, about 75% of residents are low-skilled, and the unemployment rate is 80%-85%. Half of the Roma residing in Czechia live in social exclusion. No subsequent monitoring has been undertaken on that scale since 2014-2015. A further pressing problem of social inclusion is the lack of affordable housing and the growing number of homeless people, with estimates of 200,000 not having their own home. A law on social housing in Czechia, requiring municipalities to provide adequate housing to those who lack it and which has been debated for many years, was under preparation during the period of the Sobotka government and has been promised again for 2020 by the Babiš government with the possibility that construction work could soon begin.

Health

#23

To what extent do health care policies provide high-quality, inclusive and cost-efficient health care?

10
 9

Health care policy achieves the criteria fully.
 8
 7
 6


Health care policy achieves the criteria largely.
 5
 4
 3


Health care policy achieves the criteria partly.
 2
 1

Health care policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Health Policy
7
Czechia spends slightly less on health care than the more advanced European countries. Relative to GDP, public health care spending has fallen in recent years, down from 7.1% in 2013 to 6.2% in 2016, the last year for which full data are available. The health care system, based on universal compulsory insurance, ensures a wide range of choice for both providers and consumers of health care and provides a level of service which is high by international standards. Life expectancy slightly increased in the review period; however, there are regional differences. Public health insurance in Czechia is provided through seven health insurance companies, the largest being the General Health Insurance Company (Všeobecná zdravotní pojišťovna). Indicators of inpatient and outpatient care utilization point to unnecessary consumption of goods and services, and inefficiencies persist in the allocation of resources in the hospital sector.

In 2018, there have been only minor changes in health care. The spending on preventive health programs has increased, the coverage of dental care and home-based palliative care by health insurance funds improved. These improvements have in part been financed by a rise in the health care contributions for state-insured persons (children, pensioners, unemployed or mothers on maternity leave).

Families

#26

To what extent do family support policies enable women to combine parenting with participation in the labor market?

10
 9

Family support policies effectively enable women to combine parenting with employment.
 8
 7
 6


Family support policies provide some support for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 5
 4
 3


Family support policies provide only few opportunities for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 2
 1

Family support policies force most women to opt for either parenting or employment.
Family Policy
6
The reconciliation of parenting and labor force participation is addressed by Committee on the Reconciliation of Working, Private and Family Life, an advisory body of the Government Council for Gender Equality, but is limited in practice. The employment rate for women in Czechia is below the OECD average. This especially applies to women with children under three years of age. The main problem is the level of childcare provision which declined significantly during the 1990s and has improved only recently. While the enrollment rate in formal childcare for children three to five years of age is within the third quartile of OECD countries, childcare provision for children up to two years of age is the third lowest among OECD countries, and affordable after-hours care offered by pre-schools and schools is insufficient. The growing number of single mothers – in the first quarter of 2018, 49.6% of all children were born out of wedlock – has further increased the demand for childcare. However, public support for alternative forms of child care, most notably so-called children’s groups, has expanded. Since 2017, attending kindergarten in the last pre-school year is mandatory. Differences in the regional availability of kindergartens persist. The main legal change in the period under review has been the introduction of a right to one week of paternity leave within within six weeks of a child’s birth.

Pensions

#8

To what extent does pension policy realize goals of poverty prevention, intergenerational equity and fiscal sustainability?

10
 9

Pension policy achieves the objectives fully.
 8
 7
 6


Pension policy achieves the objectives largely.
 5
 4
 3


Pension policy achieves the objectives partly.
 2
 1

Pension policy does not achieve the objectives at all.
Pension Policy
8
The Czech pension system has developed through gradual and partial reform of the pay-as-you-go system that existed before 1989. The pension system is currently in surplus and the medium-term sustainability gap associated with the aging population is relatively limited. While pensions have increased more slowly than wages, pensioner poverty remains relatively low, partly reflecting the levels of pension afforded by the old system. In March 2018, the average monthly old-age pension stood at CZK 12,347 (€475). The retirement age, which has been gradually increased since 1996, is still different for men and women. In the case of women, it also depends on the number of children reared. The automatic increase in the retirement age by two months per year in case of men and four (since 2018: six) months in case of women will stop when an age of 65 years for both men and women is reached. In 2018, not only old-age but also widowers and orphans’ pensions were revalued. The Babiš goverment has refrained from introducing other changes, which is in line with the previous government’s view that the proposed increases in pension age will ensure sustainability for the medium term. This can, and may need to be revised, in view of the aging population.

Integration

#25

How effectively do policies support the integration of migrants into society?

10
 9

Cultural, education and social policies effectively support the integration of migrants into society.
 8
 7
 6


Cultural, education and social policies seek to integrate migrants into society, but have failed to do so effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Cultural, education and social policies do not focus on integrating migrants into society.
 2
 1

Cultural, education and social policies segregate migrant communities from the majority society.
Integration Policy
4
Compared with other East-Central European countries, Czechia has experienced relatively high levels of immigration since EU accession, with the number continuing to slowly rise. From December 2017 to September 2018, the number of foreigners increased from 526,811 to 555,665 foreigners. The largest immigrant group consists of Ukrainians, followed by Vietnamese and Russians. Asylum applications are low, at 1,450 in 2017 with 29 asylum cases granted and 118 cases of supplementary protection for a predetermined period.

The central authority responsible for the area of asylum and migration in Czechia is the Ministry of the Interior. Within the Ministry, it is mainly the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy (DAMP) that is responsible for this area. The Ministry of Interior annually submits a report to the cabinet on the migration and integration of foreigners. Integration centers exist in all regions of Czechia. Some immigrant support has been provided over the years by municipal authorities and NGOs, with recent emphasis on language courses, social events and employment. However, the processing of residential applications of immigrants remains slow, and the acquisition of Czech citizenship remains complicated. Many foreign workers are employed in the shadow economy or by temp agencies, offering temporary and often unstable work with pay levels significantly below those of Czech employees. Even with the current labor force shortage, there is no evidence of any improvement.

Although Czechia is not located on one of the major routes used by refugees for coming to Western Europe, the European refugee crisis has stirred a strong and highly polarized debate on migration and integration. According to opinion polls (October 2018), 68% of the respondents stated that Czechia should not accept refugees from the countries affected by the war, while 24% of respondents believes the country should admit refugees until they can return to their country of origin. Only a minimal share of the respondents (2%) stated that Czechia should accept the refugees and let them settle there.

Citations:
Hanzlová, R. (2018): Attitude of Czech Public to Accepting of Refugees – October 2018. Prague: Public Opinion Research Center (CVVM) (https://cvvm.soc.cas.cz/en/press-releases/political/international-relations/4750-attitude-of-czech-public-to-accepting-of-refugees-october-2018).

Safe Living

#21

How effectively does internal security policy protect citizens against security risks?

10
 9

Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks very effectively.
 8
 7
 6


Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks more or less effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Internal security policy does not effectively protect citizens against security risks.
 2
 1

Internal security policy exacerbates the security risks.
Internal Security Policy
7
Crime figures in Czechia are unremarkable. The police have been registering a drop in crime for the fourth consecutive year. In 2017, compared to the previous year, crime was down by 7.3%. However, there are increasing regional differences as well as tension in regions with a concentration of marginalized groups. Czech citizens feel secure and are largely satisfied with the performance of the police. Trust in the police and the army is high. In June 2018, about two-thirds of all citizens trusted the army and the police. In the case of the police, the level of trust has been the highest since the mid-1990s. In the period under study, three Czech soldiers fell in the course of duty during a mission in Afghanistan. Thousands of Czech citizens took part in the military funeral, recognizing the role of the Czech Army in global anti-terrorism efforts.

Global Inequalities

#18

To what extent does the government demonstrate an active and coherent commitment to promoting equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries?

10
 9

The government actively and coherently engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. It frequently demonstrates initiative and responsibility, and acts as an agenda-setter.
 8
 7
 6


The government actively engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. However, some of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 5
 4
 3


The government shows limited engagement in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. Many of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute (and often undermines) efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries.
Global Social Policy
7
Czechia is not a major player in the international development and devotes a relatively low share of GDP to development aid. However, Czechia has pursued a relatively coherent strategy of development cooperation with a clear focus on countries where its own experience of transition can be helpful. While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the main coordinator of bilateral and multilateral development cooperation, a large number of private, public and non-governmental actors are extensively involved in the selection of program countries and the identification of priority sectors as well as in on-the-ground activities in partner countries. In addition to long-term programs, there is also humanitarian aid for current crisis areas. Bilateral foreign development cooperation primarily focuses on priority partner countries selected by Czechia on the basis of internationally recognized principles enshrined in the Strategy for Foreign Development Cooperation. The strategy for 2018-2023 sets six priority countries with a cooperation program (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Georgia, Cambodia, Moldova, Zambia). Czechia has also adopted specific humanitarian, stabilization and development cooperation measures through special government resolutions with Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine. In addition to geographic priorities, Czechia also sets thematic priorities for its foreign development cooperation. For the 2018-2030 period, the thematic priorities set are as follows: agriculture and rural development, sustainable management of natural resources, economic transformation and growth, inclusive social development, sound democratic governance.
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