PRAGUE — Recent data shows that poverty in the Czech Republic is among the lowest in its region. Located just east of Germany in central Europe, the Czech Republic has a population of 10.7 million people. After joining the European Union in 2004, this small nation has proven itself to be a leader in poverty reduction. The Czech Republic is a well-educated country, with 93 percent of the working adult population having completed at least secondary school.
According to the U.K. Office for National Statistics, the Czech Republic has both the lowest persistent poverty rate and overall poverty rate when compared to the rest of the EU. This data is surprising since the Czech Republic has one of the toughest minimum wages. For example, people making minimum wage in the Czech Republic must work at least 80 hours per week in order to be considered above the poverty line. These numbers can be harmful to single parent families. It can be suggested that with the current poverty rates, many workers make significantly above minimum wage in the Czech Republic.
Job security for the working population in the Czech Republic is also a contributor to the low poverty rates. Sitting around 3.4 percent, Czech Republic has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the entire European Union. The BBC notes that the economy in the Czech Republic is highly-developed and doing well, considering the recent recession.
Although poverty in the Czech Republic may seem to be under control, there are still roughly 1.5 million people threatened by poverty in the country. According to Eurostat, there is an abnormally high amount of Czech citizens that live just barely above the poverty line. This is concerning because if there is a sudden economic crisis or political challenge, Czechs living in the at-risk-of-poverty threshold will suffer damaging repercussions.
Although poverty in the Czech Republic is at an all-time low, it is important to consider the outside factors that affect these statistics. Ilona Svihlikova, an economist in Prague, believes that the poverty rates for the Czech Republic can be misleading. “The threshold is rather weak, as according to statistical findings many people find themselves very close to the threshold,” says Svihlikova, in her article about poverty and inequality. She continues: “The social sensitivity of the issue manifests itself when we take into account those who (yet) did not fall into poverty but are really close to it.“
The Czech Republic has unique poverty circumstances, so it will be important to continue examining data as it comes out.
– Morgan Leahy