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The Slovak Republic performs only moderately well in overall measures of well-being, as it ranks lower or 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 is 16 682 USD a year, less than the OECD average of 23 047 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, 59% of people aged 15 to 64 in the Slovak Republic have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 66% of men are in paid work, compared with 53% of women. People in the Slovak Republic work 1 793 hours a year, slightly more than the OECD average of 1 776 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, higher than the OECD average of 74%. 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 488 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 16 points, more than the average OECD gap of 9 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 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 21 micrograms per cubic meter. The Slovak Republic could do better in terms of water quality, as only 81% 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 89% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, slightly lower than the OECD average of 90%. 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 64% and for the bottom 20% it is 60%, much narrower than the OECD average gap of 12 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 75% 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 80%.
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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, 98.6%of people in the Slovak Republic live in dwellings with private access to an indoor flushing toilet, more than the OECD average of 97.8%.
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, healthcare and housing.
Household net-adjusted disposable income is the amount of money that a household earns each year after tax. 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 is 16 682 USD a year, lower than the OECD average of 23 047 USD.
Household financial wealth is the total value of a household’s financial worth. In the Slovak Republic, the average household net financial wealth is estimated at 7 798 USD, lower than the OECD average of 40 516 USD. While the ideal measure of household wealth should include real 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 29 511 USD a year, whereas the bottom 20% live on an estimated 7 680 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 59% of the working-age population aged 15 to 64 has a paid job. This figure is lower than the OECD employment average of 66%. Employment rates are generally higher for individuals with a higher level of education; in the Slovak Republic, an estimated 79% of individuals with at least a tertiary education have a paid job, compared with an estimated 14% for those without an upper secondary education. This 65 percentage point difference is much higher than the OECD average of 37 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 60% and less than the 66% employment rate of men in the Slovak Republic. This 13 percentage point gender difference is close to the 12 percentage point OECD average difference.
Young people in the Slovak Republic, aged 15-24, however are facing difficulties with an unemployment rate of 33.2% higher than the OECD average of 16.2%.
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 8.7%, one of the highest rates in the OECD where average unemployment is of 3.1%. 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 higher than for women, at respectively 8.8% and 8.5%.
The wages and other monetary benefits that come with employment are an important aspect of job quality. In the Slovak Republic, people earn 19 335 US dollars per year on average, less than the OECD average of 34 466 USD. Not everyone earns that amount however. Whereas the top 20% of the population earn 24 165 USD dollars per year, the bottom 20% live on 10 496 USD per year.
Another essential factor of employment quality is job security. Employees working on temporary contracts are more vulnerable than workers with an open-ended contract. In the Slovak Republic, close to 5% of total employees have a contract of 6 months or less, lower than the average of 10% for 30 OECD countries. This figure suggests the Slovak Republic has been successful in stabilising working contracts and encouraging open-ended contracts.
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 30% of people reported having helped a stranger in the last month, one of the lowest rates in the OECD where the average is 48%, and suggesting an increased risk of social isolation.
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, 89% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, close to the OECD average of 90%. There is a 2 percentage point difference between men and women, as 88% of men believe they have this kind of social support, compared with 90% of women. While gender has little impact on social network support, there is a clear relationship between the availability of social support on the one hand, and people’s education level, on the other. In the Slovak Republic, around 84% of people who have completed primary education report having someone to count on for help in times of need, compared to 96% for people who attained tertiary education.
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. Most concretely, 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 just below 56% 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 74%. 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 2 percentage points. 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, close to the OECD average of 16.5 years. This level of education expectancy echoes Slovakia’s good 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 2009, 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 488 in reading literacy, maths and sciences, lower than the OECD average of 497. On average, girls outperformed boys by 16 points, more than the average OECD gap of 9 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 20% with the highest socio-economic background and the 20% with the lowest socio-economic background is 108 points, more than the OECD average of 99 points. This suggests the school system in the Slovak Republic tends to provide higher quality education for the better off.
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 12.4 micrograms per cubic meter, much lower than the OECD average of 20.9 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, 81% of people say they are satisfied with water quality,slightly less 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
A cohesive society is one where citizens have a high degree of confidence in their governmental institutions and public administration. In the Slovak Republic, 43% of people say they trust their political institutions, less than the OECD average of 56%. 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 lower than the OECD average difference of 12 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 slightly 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 9.0% of GDP in the Slovak Republic, less than the OECD average of 9.5%. The Slovak Republic also ranks below the OECD average in terms of health spending per person, at 2095 USD in 2010, compared with an OECD average of 3268 USD. Between 2000 and 2009, total health spending in the Slovak Republic increased in real terms by 10.9% per year on average, a much faster rate than the OECD average of 4.7%, 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 21.1%. In many OECD countries, large proportions of the population are overweight or obese. In the Slovak Republic, the obesity rate among adults is 16.9%, lower than the OECD average of 17.8%. 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?” 62% 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 71% for men and 66% for women. In the Slovak Republic, the average is 67% for men and 58% for women. Not surprisingly, older people report poorer health, as do those who are unemployed, or who have less education or income. About 74% of the top 20% of the adult population in the Slovak Republic rated their health as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, compared to about 58% for 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. This is true in the Slovak Republic, where men gave their life a 6.0 grade and women 5.9. Education levels do, however, strongly influence subjective well-being. Whereas people who have only completed primary education in the Slovak Republic have a life satisfaction level of 5.6, this score reaches 6.7 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 75% 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 80%.
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 4.0%. 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 1.5, lower than the OECD average of 2.2. In the Slovak Republic, the homicide rate for men is 2.2 compared with 0.9 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, 83% of people feel safe walking alone at night, higher than the OECD average of 67%. 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 1 793 hours a year, more than the OECD average of 1 776 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.