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The Slovak Republic performs well in many measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks close to the average in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index.
Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In the Slovak Republic, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 17 228 USD a year, less than the OECD average of 23 938 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn four times as much as the bottom 20%.
In terms of employment, 60% of people aged 15 to 64 in the Slovak Republic have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 68% of men are in paid work, compared with 53% of women. People in the Slovak Republic work 1 785 hours a year, slightly more than the OECD average of 1 765 hours. Another key measure, however, is how many people work very long hours. Around 6% of employees work very long hours, lower than the OECD average of 9%, with 9% of men working very long hours compared with just 3% for women.
Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In the Slovak Republic, 91% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, much higher than the OECD average of 75% and among the highest rates in the OECD. This is slightly truer of men than women, as 93% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 89% of women. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 472 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), lower than the OECD average of 497. On average in the Slovak Republic, girls outperformed boys by 8 points, in line with the average OECD gap of 8 points.
In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in the Slovak Republic is 76 years, four years lower than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 80 years, compared with 72 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 12.7 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. The Slovak Republic could do better in terms of water quality, as only 82% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, below the OECD average of 84%.
Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and level of civic participation in the Slovak Republic, where 88% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, slightly lower than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 59% during recent elections; this figure is much lower than the OECD average of 72%. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 64% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 60%, much narrower than the OECD average gap of 11 percentage points and suggesting there is broad social inclusion in the Slovak Republic’s democratic institutions.
In general, Slovaks are less satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 72% of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc.) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc.). This figure is lower than the OECD average of 76%.
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“Better Policies” Series: Slovak Republic
The Slovak Republic is one of the most dynamic economies in the euro area. The country has continued to converge rapidly towards the living standards of advanced OECD economies. However, the Slovak Republic should continue on its path of reform to achieve balanced, fair and sustainable growth.Download this report
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Slovak Republic in Detail
Housing – Slovak Republic expand
Living in satisfactory housing conditions is one of the most important aspects of people’s lives. Housing is essential to meet basic needs, such as shelter, but it is not just a question of four walls and a roof. Housing should offer a place to sleep and rest where people feel safe and have privacy and personal space; somewhere they can raise a family. All of these elements help make a house a home. And of course there is the question whether people can afford adequate housing.
Housing costs take up a large share of the household budget and represent the largest single expenditure for many individuals and families, by the time you add up elements such as rent, gas, electricity, water, furniture or repairs. In the Slovak Republic, households on average spend 25% of their gross adjusted disposable income on keeping a roof over their heads, one of the highest rates in the OECD where the average is of 21%.
In addition to housing costs it is also important to examine living conditions, such as the average number of rooms shared per person and whether households have access to basic facilities. In the Slovak Republic, 86% of people say they are satisfied with their current housing situation, slightly less than the OECD average of 87%. This reflects the Slovak Republic’s mixed performance in objective housing indicators.
The number of rooms in a dwelling, divided by the number of persons living there, indicates whether residents are living in crowded conditions. Overcrowded housing may have a negative impact on physical and mental health, relations with others and children’s development. In addition, dense living conditions are often a sign of inadequate water and sewage supply. In the Slovak Republic, the average home contains 1.2 rooms per person, less than the OECD average of 1.6 rooms per person. In terms of basic facilities, 98.9% of people in the Slovak Republic live in dwellings with private access to an indoor flushing toilet, more than the OECD average of 97.9%.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Income – Slovak Republic expand
While money may not buy happiness, it is an important means to achieving higher living standards and thus greater well-being. Higher economic wealth may also improve access to quality education, health care and housing.
Household net-adjusted disposable income is the amount of money that a household earns each year after taxes and transfers. It represents the money available to a household for spending on goods or services. In the Slovak Republic, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 17 228 USD a year, lower than the OECD average of 23 938 USD.
Household financial wealth is the total value of a household’s financial worth. In the Slovak Republic, the average household net financial wealth per capita is estimated at 9 651 USD, lower than the OECD average of 42 903 USD. While the ideal measure of household wealth should include non-financial assets (e.g. land and dwellings), such information is currently available for only a small number of OECD countries.
Despite a general increase in living standards across OECD countries over the past fifteen years, not all people have benefited from this to the same extent. In the Slovak Republic, the average net adjusted disposable income of the top 20% of the population is an estimated 30 595 USD a year, whereas the bottom 20% live on an estimated 7 830 USD a year.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Jobs – Slovak Republic expand
Having a job brings many important benefits, including: providing a source of income, improving social inclusion, fulfilling one’s own aspirations, building self-esteem and developing skills and competencies. In the Slovak Republic, around 60% of the working-age population aged 15 to 64 has a paid job. This figure is lower than the OECD employment average of 65%. Employment rates are generally higher for individuals with a higher level of education; in the Slovak Republic, an estimated 77% of individuals with at least a tertiary education have a paid job, compared with an estimated 15% for those without an upper secondary education. This 62 percentage point difference is much higher than the OECD average of 33 percentage points and represents the largest gap across OECD countries. This suggests the job market in the Slovak Republic is highly restrictive.
Women are still less likely than men to participate in the labour market. In the Slovak Republic, 53% of women have jobs. This is less than the OECD average of 57% and less than the 67% employment rate of men in the Slovak Republic. This 14 percentage point gender difference is close to the 16 percentage point OECD average difference.
Young people in the Slovak Republic, aged 15-24, however are facing difficulties with an unemployment rate of 34.0% higher than the OECD average of 16.3%.
Unemployed persons are defined as those who are not currently working but are willing to do so and actively searching for work. Long-term unemployment can have a large negative effect on feelings of well-being and self-worth and result in a loss of skills, further reducing employability. In the Slovak Republic, the percentage of the labour force that has been unemployed for a year or longer is currently at nearly 8.9%, much higher than the OECD average of 2.7%. There is little difference on average between men and women in the OECD area when it comes to long-term unemployment. In the Slovak Republic the long-term unemployment rate for men is slightly lower than for women, at respectively 8.8% and 9.0%.
The wages and other monetary benefits that come with employment are an important aspect of job quality. In the Slovak Republic, people earn 20 428 US dollars per year on average, less than the OECD average of 41 010 USD. Not everyone earns that amount however. Whereas the top 20% of the population earn an estimated 24 555 USD dollars per year, the bottom 20% live on an estimated 10 712 USD per year.
Another essential factor of employment quality is job security. Workers facing a high risk of job loss are more vulnerable, especially in countries with smaller social safety nets. In the Slovak Republic, workers face a 5.8% chance of losing their job, slightly higher than the OECD average of 5.3%.
Better Policies for Better Lives
The Slovak Republic is among the EU countries with the highest levels of unemployment, despite the current recovery in GDP, with young people and women particularly hard-hit. The Training and Advisory Services for Potential Entrepreneurs project offers training and business advisory services to unemployed people, youth, women during and after maternity leave, seniors and immigrants to support the development of business plans.
The programme aims to increase awareness and knowledge of opportunities in self-employment through training while providing advice to those who wish to start. Applications are assessed by business advisors, who refer the potential entrepreneurs to free training courses and business advisory services.
Almost 10 000 people have taken part in training courses since they were started in 2002, and in
2011, 73% of those who participated in training started a business.
More ResourcesWell‑being in the workplace: Measuring job quality
Community – Slovak Republic expand
Humans are social creatures. The frequency of our contact with others and the quality of our personal relationships are thus crucial determinants of our well-being. Helping others can also make you happier. In the Slovak Republic, only 32% of people reported having helped a stranger in the last month, one of the lowest rates in the OECD where the average is 49%.
A strong social network, or community, can provide emotional support during both good and bad times as well as provide access to jobs, services and other material opportunities. In the Slovak Republic, 88% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, close to the OECD average of 89%. There is a 2 percentage point difference between men and women, as 87% of men believe they have this kind of social support, compared with 89% of women. In the Slovak Republic, around 93% of people who have completed primary education report having someone to count on for help in times of need, compared to 89% for people who attained tertiary education. The Slovak Republic is one of four countries where the less educated report more social connections than the more educated.
A weak social network can result in limited economic opportunities, a lack of contact with others, and eventually, feelings of isolation. Socially isolated individuals face difficulties integrating into society as a contributing member and fulfilling personal aspirations.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance OECD Insights: Human Capital
Education – Slovak Republic expand
A well-educated and well-trained population is essential for a country’s social and economic well-being. Education plays a key role in providing individuals with the knowledge, skills and competences needed to participate effectively in society and in the economy. Having a good education greatly improves the likelihood of finding a job and earning enough money. Across OECD countries, 83% of people with university-level degrees have a job, compared with 55% for those with only a secondary school diploma. Lifetime earnings also increase with each level of education.
Following a decline in manual labour over previous decades, employers now favour a more educated labour force. High-school graduation rates therefore provide a good indication of whether a country is preparing its students to meet the minimum requirements of the job market. In the Slovak Republic, 91% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, much higher than the OECD average of 75% and one of the highest rates across OECD countries. This is truer of men than women, as 93% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 89% of women. This 4 percentage point difference is slightly higher than the OECD average of 1 percentage point. Among younger people – a better indicator of the Slovak republic’s future – 94%of 25-34 year-olds have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, also higher than the OECD average of 82%.
Slovaks can expect to go through 16.4 years of education between the ages of 5 and 39, less than the OECD average of 17.7 years. This level of education expectancy could influence the Slovak Republic’s future performance in the educational attainment of its 25-34 year-old population.
But graduation rates, while important, speak little to the quality of education received. The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reviews the extent to which students have acquired some of the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. In 2012, PISA focused on examining students’ reading ability, skills in maths and level in sciences, as research shows that these skills are more reliable predictors of economic and social well-being than the number of years spent in school.
The average student in the Slovak Republic scored 472 in reading literacy, maths and sciences, lower than the OECD average of 497 and one of the lowest rates in the OECD. On average, girls outperformed boys by 8 points, in line with the average OECD gap of 8 points.
The best-performing school systems manage to provide high-quality education to all students. In the Slovak Republic, the average difference in results, between the students with the highest socio-economic background and the students with the lowest socio-economic background is 150 points, much more than the OECD average of 96 points and the largest gap amongst OECD countries. This suggests the school system in the Slovak Republic does not provide equal access to high-quality education.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Environment – Slovak Republic expand
The quality of our local living environment has a direct impact on our health. Having access to green spaces for example, is essential for quality of life. An unspoiled environment is a source of satisfaction, improves mental well-being, allows people to recover from the stress of everyday life and to perform physical activity. In the Slovak Republic, 19% of people feel they lack access to green spaces or recreational areas, more than the 12 % average of OECD European countries.
Outdoor air pollution is one important environmental issue that directly affects the quality of peoples’ lives. Despite national and international interventions and decreases in major pollutant emissions, the health impacts of urban air pollution continue to worsen, with air pollution set to become the top environmental cause of premature mortality globally by 2050. Air pollution in urban centres, often caused by transport and the use of small-scale burning of wood or coal, is linked to a range of health problems, from minor eye irritation to upper respiratory symptoms in the short-term and chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer in the long-term. Children and the elderly may be particularly vulnerable.
PM10 – tiny particulate matter small enough to be inhaled into the deepest part of the lung – is monitored in OECD countries because it can harm human health and reduce life expectancy. In the Slovak Republic, PM10 levels are 12.7 micrograms per cubic meter, much lower than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter and the annual guideline limit of 20 micrograms per cubic meter set by the World Health Organization.
Access to clean water is fundamental to human well-being. Despite significant progress in OECD countries in reducing water pollution, improvements in freshwater quality are not always easy to discern. In the Slovak Republic, 82% of people say they are satisfied with water quality, slightly lower than the OECD average of 84%.
Better Policies for Better Lives
Combining strong economic growth and lower air pollution
Reducing air pollution has long been a priority for the Slovak Republic. The Slovak government has ratified various international agreements and approved several national programmes for reducing emissions of air pollutants. For instance, the Slovak Republic is a party to the 1979 Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) and its eight protocols. The Slovak Republic has succeeded in achieving economic growth without increasing air pollution. While GDP increased more than 60% between 2000 and 2008, emissions of most pollutants decreased.
Two decades of economic restructuring, fuel switching and efficiency gains, and replacement of old polluting technology contributed to this good performance. The Slovak Republic also made major investments in air protection for EU accession and, since then, has defined air quality targets, non-compliance penalties and political responsibilities in line with EU directives. For example, the law obliges polluting operators to pay emission taxes.
However, although most ambient air quality standards are respected, particulate matter and ground-level ozone concentrations frequently exceed limit values for the protection of human health. In the future, the Slovak Republic will need to pay special attention to emissions from the transport sector which are projected to grow.
More ResourcesEnvironmental Performance Reviews: Slovak Republic OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030 How's Life?: Health Status
Governance – Slovak Republic expand
Trust in government is essential for social cohesion and well-being. In the Slovak Republic, 28% of people say they trust their national government, less than the OECD average of 39%. High voter turnout is another measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process. In the most recent elections for which data is available, voter turnout in the Slovak Republic was 59% of those registered. This figure is much lower than the OECD average of 72%.
Even if the right to vote is universal in all OECD countries, not everyone exercises this right. There is little difference in the voting rates of men and women in most OECD countries. This is the case in the Slovak Republic, where the voter turnout of men and women is nearly the same. While on average there are few differences between men and women concerning participation in elections, income can have a strong influence on voter turnout. In the Slovak Republic, voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 64%, whereas the participation rate of the bottom 20% is an estimated 60%. This 4 percentage point difference is much lower than the OECD average difference of 11 percentage points and suggests there is broad social inclusion in the Slovak Republic’s democratic institutions.
Ensuring that government decision making is not compromised by conflicts of interest is key to maintaining trust in government. Transparency is therefore essential to hold government to account and to maintain confidence in public institutions.
Freedom of information laws (FOI) allow the possibility for individuals to access undisclosed information. For such policies to be successful, the public should have a clear understanding of their rights under the law, should be able to file requests with ease and should be protected against any possible retaliation. People in the Slovak Republic can file a request for information either in writing, online, by telephone or in person – thus greatly facilitating the FOI process. The Slovak Republic is one of six OECD countries to protect individuals from any possible retaliation, but does not allow for anonymous requests.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Health – Slovak Republic expand
Most OECD countries have enjoyed large gains in life expectancy over the past decades, thanks to improvements in living conditions, public health interventions and progress in medical care. Life expectancy at birth in the Slovak Republic stands at 76 years, four years below the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 80 years, compared with 72 for men, a gender difference larger than the OECD average gender gap of six years with a life expectancy of 83 years for women and 77 for men.
Higher life expectancy is generally associated with higher healthcare spending per person, although many other factors have an impact on life expectancy (such as living standards, lifestyles, education and environmental factors). Total health spending accounts for 7.9% of GDP in the Slovak Republic, less than the OECD average of 9.4%. The Slovak Republic also ranks below the OECD average in terms of health spending per person, at 1 915 USD in 2011, compared with an OECD average of 3 322 USD. Between 2000 and 2011, total health spending in the Slovak Republic increased in real terms by 8.2% per year on average, a much faster rate than the OECD average of 4.0%. This growth rate then slowed down to 2.6% in 2010.
Throughout the OECD, tobacco consumption and excessive weight gain remain two important risk factors for many chronic diseases. The daily smoking rate among adults in the Slovak Republic is 19.5% — slightly less than the OECD average of 20.9%. In many OECD countries, large proportions of the population are overweight or obese. In the Slovak Republic, the obesity rate among adults was 16.9% in 2010, lower than the OECD average of 17.2%. Obesity’s growing prevalence foreshadows increases in the occurrence of health problems (such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and asthma), and higher health care costs in the future.
When asked, “How is your health in general?”63% of people in the Slovak Republic reported to be in good health, less than the OECD average of 69%. Despite the subjective nature of this question, answers have been found to be a good predictor of people’s future health care use. Gender, age and social status may affect answers to this question. On average in OECD countries, men are more likely to report good health than women, with an average of 72% for men and 67% for women. In the Slovak Republic, the average is 68% for men and 59% for women. Not surprisingly, older people report poorer health, as do those who are unemployed, or who have less education or income. About 75% of adults with a disposable income in the top 20% in the Slovak Republic rated their health as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, compared to about 60% for those with a disposable income in the bottom 20%.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Life Satisfaction – Slovak Republic expand
Happiness or subjective well-being can be measured in terms of life satisfaction, the presence of positive experiences and feelings, and the absence of negative experiences and feelings. Such measures, while subjective, are a useful complement to objective data to compare the quality of life across countries.
Life satisfaction measures how people evaluate their life as a whole rather than their current feelings. It captures a reflective assessment of which life circumstances and conditions are important for subjective well-being. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Slovaks gave it a 5.9 grade, lower than the OECD average of 6.6.
There is little difference in life satisfaction levels between men and women across OECD countries. In the Slovak Republic, however, men reported being somewhat happier than women, rating their lives at 6.1, compared with 5.8 for women. Education levels do also influence subjective well-being. Whereas people who have only completed primary education in the Slovak Republic have a life satisfaction level of 5.7, this score reaches 6.8 for people with tertiary education.
Happiness, or subjective well-being, is also defined as the presence of positive experiences and feelings, and/or the absence of negative experiences and feelings. In the Slovak Republic 72% of people reported having more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc.) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc.). This figure is lower than the OECD average of 76%.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Safety – Slovak Republic expand
Personal security is a core element for the well-being of individuals, and largely reflects the risks of people being physically assaulted or falling victim to other types of crime. Across the OECD, assault rates have generally declined in the past five years. In the Slovak Republic, nearly 3.0% of people reported falling victim to assault over the previous 12 months, less than the OECD average of 3.9%. There is a difference of more than 1.5 percentage points between men and women in assault rates, at respectively 3.8% and 2.2%.
The homicide rate (the number of murders per 100,000 inhabitants) is a more reliable measure of a country’s safety level because, unlike other crimes, murders are usually always reported to the police. According to the latest OECD data, the Slovak Republic’s homicide rate is 1.2, lower than the OECD average of 4.1. In the Slovak Republic, the homicide rate for men is 1.4 compared with 1.0 for women.
Fear of crime is another important indicator as it can constrain behaviour, restrict freedom and threaten the foundation of communities. Despite a general reduction in assault rates in the past five years, in many OECD countries feelings of security have declined. In the Slovak Republic, 58% of people feel safe walking alone at night, lower than the OECD average of 69%. While men are at a greater risk of being victims of assaults and violent crimes, women report lower feelings of security than men. This has been explained by a greater fear of sexual attacks, the feeling they must also protect their children and their concern that they may be seen as partially responsible.
More ResourcesHow's Life? at a Glance
Work-Life Balance – Slovak Republic expand
Finding a suitable balance between work and life is a challenge for all workers, especially working parents. Some couples would like to have (more) children, but do not see how they could afford to stop working. Other parents are happy with the number of children in their family, but would like to work more. This is a challenge to governments because if parents cannot achieve their desired work/life balance, not only is their welfare lowered but so is development in the country.
An important aspect of work-life balance is the amount of time a person spends at work. Evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardize safety and increase stress. People in the Slovak Republic work 1 785 hours a year, slightly more than the OECD average of 1 765 hours. Another key measure, however, is how many people work very long hours. The share of employees working more than 50 hours per week is not very large across OECD countries. In the Slovak Republic, some 6% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 9%. Overall, men spend more hours in paid work: in the Slovak Republic 9% of men work very long hours, compared with 3% for women.