Slovenia

   

Social Policies

#15
Key Findings
Showing a mixed record, Slovenia falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 15) with regard to social policies. Its score on this measure has gained 0.4 points relative to 2014.

Education-system outcomes are generally good, though the tertiary sector is underfunded. Spending on education has been increased. Income-inequality rates are low. The last of the remaining austerity-era benefit cuts have been reversed, and a number of social benefits have been boosted. The minimum wage is being increased in phases.

A good quality compulsory public healthcare system, supplemented by private insurance providers, offers access to basic services, but does not cover all care. The system suffers from financial problems, but a reform plan has been slow to emerge. Child care and parental-leave provisions are strong, and the employment rate for women is high.

A pension reform is underway that will raise the actual retirement age and index pension growth, while increasing minimum pension levels. The annual number of work permits issued has gone up following a crisis-era decline. The government has erected a fence and set stronger guards along the southern border to keep out transiting asylum-seekers.

Education

#11

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
7
Slovenia has moved relatively rapidly from the socialist curriculum tradition toward a more flexible organization of education. With a high share of the population aged 25 to 64 having completed at least upper secondary education as well as high ranks in international educational achievement tests, the education system fares relatively well by international comparison. The most pressing problems remain the small (but slowly growing) share of pupils enlisted in vocational education, as well as an underfunded tertiary-education system with high dropout rates and large fictitious enrollment figures.

Like the previous government, the Šarec government has increased spending for education. It also tried to address a five-year old decision of the Constitutional Court on the public funding of accredited private school programs. The Court had ruled that the latter are eligible to the same amount of funding per pupil as public ones and not only to the current 85%. The Šarec government prepared a new act on the organization and financing of education (ZOFVI-L) with the aim of circumventing the court’s decision. Despite legal warnings, the act was adopted in the National Assembly on 9 July 2019, only to be vetoed by the National Council, a kind of upper house representing social, economic, professional and local interests. The act then failed to acquire the absolute majority needed in a second vote in the National Assembly on 18 July 2019.

Social Inclusion

#2

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
9
Slovenia has a strong tradition of social inclusion, with its Gini coefficient being the second lowest among EU member countries. In the past, social policy focused on providing benefits to the elderly and to families with children. After the onset of the economic crisis, however, social disparities widened. The Fiscal Balance Act, adopted by the Janša government in May 2012, cut several social-benefit programs and reduced the generosity of social benefits for the unemployed. During the period under review, the Šarec government eliminated the last remaining austerity measures in the area of social security benefits and increased a broad range of social benefits. In December 2018, the National Assembly approved a phased ten percent increase in the minimum wage from €638 per month after tax to €667 in January 2019, with a scheduled increase to €700 in January 2020. In addition, some bonuses which are currently included as part of the minimum wage will be excluded in 2020 and must be paid on top. In such cases, they effectively further increase the lowest wages.

Health

#30

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
5
The Slovenian healthcare system is dominated by a compulsory public-insurance scheme. This scheme guarantees universal access to basic health services but does not cover all costs and treatments. In order to close this gap, citizens can take out additional insurance offered by Vzajemna, a mutual health insurance organization established in 1999, or, since 2006, additional insurance offered by two other commercial insurance companies. The quality of services, which are partly delivered by private providers and are organized locally, is relatively good. While total health spending is well above the OECD average. both the compulsory public health insurance scheme and the supplementary health insurance funds have suffered from financial problems for some time, resulting in financial problems among the majority of health providers. Since 2015, several scandals about irregularities and corruption in procurement in hospitals have surfaced. These scandals, combined with the growing lack of general practitioners in primary care, threaten to cripple the entire system.

Healthcare reform has been on the political agenda for some time and has featured prominently in the coalition agreement of the Šarec government. As under the previous government, however, progress has been slow. The governing parties have held different views on reforms, which have been difficult to reconcile. The outside coalition partner, The Left (Levice), for instance, has pressed hard to re-expand the public health insurance scheme to the detriment of the supplementary health insurance funds. Because of these internal conflicts, the Šarec government did not relaunch the preparation of a new draft healthcare and health insurance act already announced under its predecessor until fall 2019.

Families

#6

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
9
The employment rate among women in Slovenia is above the EU average, and the employment rate of mothers with children under six is among the highest in the EU. Reconciling parenting and employment is facilitated by the fact that Slovenia provides childcare facilities that exceed the EU average and meets the Barcelona targets both for children under three years of age and between three and five years of age. Over the past ten years the number of children enrolled at nursery schools has increased by about 50%. While the incidence of part-time work is growing slowly, most women work full time. The New Parental and Family Benefit Act that came into force in 2014 extended the right to part-time work when having two children from six years of age until the end of first grade of primary school. At 105 working days, the maximum duration of maternity leave is near the European average. In addition, parents can take up to 260 days of parental leave, part of which is paid. The 2014 act also included a gradual reform of the additional, non-transferable paternity leave which was completed in the course of 2017. On the one hand, the overall number of days of paternity leave was reduced from 90 to 30. On the other, the number of days with full salary compensation was doubled from 15 to 30, so as to make taking paternity leave more attractive to men. In late 2018, the Šarec government eventually abandoned cuts to family benefits that had originally been introduced in 2012. It reintroduced the indexation of family benefits to inflation and reduced the income-testing of family benefits.

Citations:
European Commission (2016): Slovenia: A dynamic family policy to improve work-life balance. Brussels (http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1248&langId=en&intPageId=3656).

Stropnik, N. (2019: Slovenia abandons cuts to family benefits. ESPN, Flash Report 2019/07, Brussels.

Pensions

#18

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
7
Slovenia has a traditional pay-as-you-go (PAYG) pension system with modest pensions, whose intergenerational fairness and financial sustainability in the face of an rapidly aging society has suffered from a low employment rate for the elderly. A substantial pension reform was adopted in December 2012. This instituted a gradual increase in the full-retirement age to 65 for men and woman, or 60 for workers with at least 40 years of pensionable service. In addition, it introduced incentives for people to continue working after qualifying for official retirement and implemented changes to the pension formula that have slowed pension growth. The Cerar government emphasized the need for further change and eventually agreed with the social partners upon the broad outline of a pension reform to be adopted by 2020 that includes a 70% net replacement rate, raising the actual retirement age and an indexation rule that links the growth of pensions to wage growth and changes in consumer prices. The Šarec government has prepared amendments to the Pension and Disability Insurance Act that have aimed at improving pension adequacy and at fostering the employment of pensioners, but have raised concerns about the financial sustainability of the pension scheme.

Citations:
European Commission (2020): Country Report Slovenia 2020. SWD(2020) 523 final. Brussels, 18-20 (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/2020-european-semester-country-repor t-slovenia-en.pdf).

Macjen, B. (2019): Slovenia Plans to Increase Pension Adequacy. ESPN, Flash Report 2019/43, Brussels.

Integration

#27

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
5
Successive governments have done little to foster the integration of migrants into society by opening up health services and schools, offering anti-discrimination support or encouraging political participation. In June 2015, however, the National Assembly adopted new legislation on foreign employment that improved protections for foreign workers employed in Slovenia, and as of 1 September 2015, foreign workers receive a unified work and residency permit. While the number of work permits for foreigners dropped from 85,000 in 2008 to a mere 7,033 in 2016 as a result of the economic crisis, it has been on the rise since 2017. At the same time, the period under review saw an increase in the number of asylum-seekers on their way to neighboring Italy and Austria. The government has responded by erecting an additional fence along the southern border that is guarded by a higher number of policemen and (assisting) army personnel.

Safe Living

#5

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
9
Actual and perceived security risks in Slovenia are very low. Slovenia’s accession to the Schengen group in December 2007 has resulted in a substantial professionalization of the Slovenian police force and border control. A six-month police strike, which ended in June 2016, brought substantial increases in wages as a well as a commitment by the government to increase future spending on basic police equipment. The effects of that commitment were evident in the period under review, with the police receiving new equipment, such as radars and vehicles, to replace older models. While public trust in the police is slightly below the EU average, it is higher than in most other East-Central European countries and higher than public trust in political institutions.

Citations:
European Commission (2018): Standard Eurobarometer 89. Brussels (http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/STANDARD/surveyKy/2180).

Global Inequalities

#31

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
5
With EU accession in 2004, Slovenia’s status changed from donor to recipient of official development assistance. However, Slovenia has not been very active in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. The few initiatives that exist are mostly focused on the former Yugoslavia. The prevailing attitude is that Slovenia has its own measure of socioeconomic problems to tackle and that potential Slovenian international influence is negligible. Still, Slovenia’s official development assistance comes close to the EU target and has risen substantially in recent years.
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