Are the Elderly in Slovenia Poor?
by Bla Mesec
Analyses of the demographic, economic and social position of
elderly people in Slovenia show that pensioners are evenly distributed
between the income groups, and that their population is stratified
in a manner similar to that of the rest of the population, not
concentrated in the lower income brackets. The position of single
pensioner households, which are in fact more commonly found
in the lower income groups, is different; this is especially
true in the case of single retired women. These individuals
are on the verge of poverty. Social welfare contributions that
compensate for the loss of regular income, are an insignificant
source of income for pensioners. If the poverty line is equal
to one-half of the average income in the country, we find that
13.1 percent of the women aged 60 years or more live under the
poverty line; this accounts for the highest percentage of people
living under the poverty line for any of the population subcategories
of people aged 60 years or more, or among pensioner households.
The 60+ category includes pensioners as well as others. It is
only those individuals from this category who do not receive
pensions, i.e. those who are financially supported by others
and those who simply have no income, that are threatened by
poverty. In general, poverty of elderly people is not a major
problem in Slovenia, even if occasionally the cases of poverty
are exploited for political aims. But some subcategories of
elderly population are under poverty line and at risk of social
exclusion; particular attention has to be paid to the elderly
individuals living in single households and receiving no pension.
Also, in the future the situation may change drastically, since
the pensions which now amount to approximately two-thirds of
the average salary (1998; the average pension amounts to 67.4
percent of the average salary, whereas the average old-age pension
amounts to 74.5 percent of the average salary) will diminish.
According to some authors any person whose only source of income
is a pension will fall below the poverty line.
Slovenia: Some Socio-Economic
The Republic of Slovenia
(population 1,987.755 in 1999, area 20.000 square km) with it's
relatively high GDP per capita (14.800 USD), low inflation rate,
low level of public debt, almost balanced general government
budget, is regarded as a successful transitional state and a
prospective candidate for EU. It’s rank of 28 in Human
Development Index is among the highest in the world. The components
of the index are: life expectancy - 75 years, gross enrolment
ratio of 82, education index of 0.93 and above mentioned real
GDP per capita (Hanek, Gregorcic, 2000). During the transition
years the number of unemployed persons (7.6 % in 1999) and pensioners
increased. The number of pensioners increased from 15.5% in
1983 to 19.7% in 1993 for men and from 16.1% to 22% for women,
largely because of early retirement schemes (Stanovnik, Stropnik,
2000). The consequence of the desire to retain the existing
level of social benefits has been a large increase in the overall
costs of social insurance.
Elderly in Slovenia: Demographic
At the end of 1999 there were 275,400 people aged 65 years or
more living in Slovenia, accounting for 13.99 percent of the
total population of the country. The cohort comprising elderly
people aged 65 years or more has been constantly growing over
the last decades. The ratio between men and women is very asymmetrical:
there are far more women (63,5 %) than men (36,5%) within the
population of 65+. Projections of population statistics for
elderly people up to 2020 indicate an increase of one percent
every five years, and the percentage is expected to rise to
14.5 by 2005, 15.9 by 2010, and 18.9 percent of the total population
by 2020 (Statistical Yearbook 2000).
Data for people aged 65 years or more indicate that Slovenia
is, population-wise, an old society. A society is considered
»old« when more than 7 percent (or 10, or 12 percent
- different authors use different figures) of the population
are aged 65 years or more. The figures for Slovenia for 1999
(13.99 percent of the population aged 65 years or more) undoubtedly
places Slovenia among older societies. The population ageing
index, i.e. the ratio between people aged 65 years or more and
children up to the age of 14 years (inclusive), is 87 at the
end of the year 1999. A normal ageing index, one which indicates
a favourable reproduction rate for the population, is between
32 and 40. An index of 72 is considered the »demographic
threshold«, i.e. the turning point beyond which the population
no longer reproduces its numbers. Slovenia passed this threshold
in 1996. The life expectancy of men has increased from 65.56
years in 1958/59 to 71.34, whilst that of women has increased
from 70.68 to 78.75 during the same period. The year 2000 is
the first year when the natural increase value became positive
again after a long run of negative values signifying a decline
of the population's capability of self-renewal.
Thus, elderly population is growing in numbers and is becoming
more and more important factor, influencing the possibility
of the society for growth and development. The struggle of the
state to cut the expenditures for old age pension insurance
and social benefits threatens to worsen the living conditions
of the elderly. So the question, whether the elderly on the
average or in a substantial numbers are to be regarded as poor,
seems to be justified. It is justified also as there is tempting
for different political options to manipulate with the poverty
of societal groups, i.e. to “hazard with old age”,
as Novak (1998) has put it. The answer to this question up to
now has been: No, they are not poor. Or better: Not yet. Or
still better: Depends on how the poverty is defined. But let
us see some data.
Concept of Poverty and Poverty
in the General Population
concept of poverty, as simple as it seems to be on the first
sight, is a multi-level and elusive concept, since poverty is
not an objective and absolute, but socially constructed and
relative characteristic (Novak, 1994). To illustrate this elusiveness
and complexity it is enough to show, that the very means aimed
at reducing poverty, e.g. social assistance benefits, are used
to define it, and that the criteria for assessing poverty are
relative. If a society as a whole is poor, then the poverty
thresholds will also be lower, and the official number of poor
people will not be bigger as in a rich country. For the aims
of this paper we will distinguish three types or levels of poverty:
poverty in stricter sense, i.e. material poverty, poverty in
broader sense, which includes social exclusion and deprivations,
and – applied especially to the elderly population - cultural
or spiritual poverty, i.e. the experience of meaningless life.
Material poverty or poverty in
can be subdivided into objectively measured and subjectively
measured one. Objective criteria, based on income, can be subdivided
into absolute and relative ones. Absolute poverty is defined
by the income below the officially defined minimal income. The
minimal income in this respect is defined through the procedure
of determining the eligibility for social support. For this
condition two kinds of support are foreseen: financial assistance
and means-tested financial allowance. Financial assistance as
the only source of livelihood (according to Social Welfare Act)
is a permanent source of income substitution. Persons, eligible
for social assistance, are those younger that 60 and incapable
of working, and persons older than 60 years, with no income,
no property and no carer (family members or others) and are
living at home. Social assistance is calculated as 60% of the
guaranteed wage (223 DEM in 2000 as 60% of 372 DEM). Additionally
to this the eligible person is entitled to the assistance in
natural or functional form once a year. If care by another person
is needed, the amount of assistance can be 30% higher.
Means-tested financial allowance (financial assistance as temporary
source according to Social Welfare Act) is a temporary source
of support. Eligible are individuals or families who temporarily
cannot provide funds for living (temporarily incapable of working),
i.e. if their income, without other benefits, does not reach
certain criteria, expressed as a percentage of guaranteed income
(29%, 34%, 42%, 52% - depending on age of the child or adult).
The amount of financial allowance is determined as the difference
between real income per household member and the specific percentage
of the guaranteed wage. It amounted to 194 DEM (in 2000). Thus,
both criteria are set as a percentage of guaranteed wage. Besides
temporary financial assistance single financial assistance is
possible for overcoming a momentary lack of funds.
The total number of persons of all ages receiving either one
or the other kind of support was 33.196, i.e. 1,7% of the whole
population (together with children of the recipients they comprise
3 % of the whole population). Of these 33 thousands, 3,7% are
mostly elderly over 59, receiving financial assistance as a
permanent support. They would comprise less than 1% of the elderly
population of 60+. Other 96,3% of the population of the receivers
of either kind of assistance, are young people: 67% are singles,
15% are parents of one-parent families, the rest are parents
of two parent families. The number of people receiving permanent
welfare assistance has been lowering during the last years,
but the number of young supported has been increasing –
the phenomenon of »the infantilisation of poverty«.
(There is a number of other benefits to the young and elderly
which are not of interest here, as they are not contained in
the definition of poverty.)
Relative poverty is defined by the income level below »poverty
line«, which is set at 40%, 50% or 60% of the medium (median)
equivalent income. In EU-states there are 17% of persons below
the poverty line of 60% of median equivalent income. In Slovenia
there were 11,2% of persons below this line, the figure being
so low partly due to different methodology (in 1998, Hanek,
Gregorcic, 2000). The number of persons below the so defined
poverty threshold diminished from 13,6% in 1993. But among the
households with no person active (among them many elderly),
there were 21% below the poverty line in 1998. The relativity
of poverty can be illustrated through (indirect) comparison
with the data on households. Let us suppose that the same percentage
valid for individual persons below the poverty line, holds for
households too, i.e. 11,2%. 98 percents of all Slovenian households
own a refrigerator; let's suppose that the remaining 2 percents
of households, who do not own a refrigerator, are all households
below the poverty line. It follows that the remaining 4/5 of
households below poverty line own a refrigerator. By the same
logic we arrive at conclusion that at least ¾ of households
below poverty line own a washing machine, half of those households
own a colour TV.
Subjective poverty is poverty measured by asking people whether
they consider themselves poor. Approximately 1% of the general
Slovenian population considers themselves poor or lacking basic
consumer goods. But additional 3,5% say that they have severely
to limit themselves in purchasing food. 33.3% say that they
have to spend money very carefully or limit purchases of equipment,
clothes etc. (Slovenian Public Opinion - SJM 99). In general
the proportion of people, who say they lack nothing, increased
over the years, so did the proportion of those who say, they
have to economize on less important things. The proportion of
those who have severely to limit themselves purchasing consumer
Social exclusion and deprivation
Restricting the concept of
poverty to the measures, based on income, would mean to overlook
other dimensions of poverty and their possible combinations,
which can nullify the power of even a modest income. Such factors
include lack of property, bad housing conditions, lack of education,
of equipment, permanent unemployment, lack of social support,
discrimination and other factors. According to a research on
the population of 17+ (Trbanc, 1996) some 4% of the general
population seem to be deprived regarding housing conditions,
34% have only elementary education or less, 20% have difficulties
covering the expenses for food and housing, are unemployed (7%)
etc. The majority (52%) are deprived in 1-2 areas, 31% in 3
or more areas.
Poverty of the Elderly (Pensioners
Not all the recipients of the financial assistance
as the only source of income are elderly, but lacking the exact
data we will take them all as elderly, since the majority are
elderly indeed: 1230. The recipients of the financial assistance
as the temporary source of income are 31.966 persons (in 1999)
in the whole population. Of all the recipients of financial
assistance as the temporary source of income, 5.7% are 60+,
in absolute number 1822 persons. Together, the elderly recipients
of both kinds of assistance are at most 4874, i.e. 0,25% of
the whole population or 1,3% of the elderly population 60+.
These are to be regarded as absolutely poor as they are receiving
either one or the other kind of financial assistance because
of the absolute lack of financial resources. The number of social
assistance recipients has been decreasing relative to the total
number of pensioners (or elderly) since 1991.
Since more recent comparative research is lacking,
we will recourse to a research of the economic well-being of
the elderly people in Slovenia which compares data for 1983-1993
(Stanovnik, Stropnik, Prinz, 2000; Stanovnik, 1997), thus covering
the period of transition. If the poverty line is set to one-half
of the average income in the country, we find that in 1993 7,1%
of all persons (of all ages) are below the poverty line compared
to 12,6% of all persons in the category of 60+. 13,1 percent
of the women aged 60 years or more live under the poverty line
(11,9% of the men); this accounts for the highest percentage
of people living under the poverty line for any of the population
subcategories of people aged 60 years or more, or among pensioner
households. The 60+ category includes pensioners as well as
others. It is only those individuals from this category who
do not receive pensions, i.e. those who are financially supported
by others, and those who simply have no income, that are threatened
by poverty. Poverty incidence in pensioners decreased considerably
from 1983 to 1993; for persons aged 60 + (which include non-pensioners
too) the decrease is less pronounced.
Other indication of relative poverty would be a negatively
skewed distribution of income or accumulation of persons in
lower income deciles. But the research quoted above shows, that
pensioners are evenly distributed among the income groups, and
that their population is stratified in a manner similar to that
of the rest of the population, not concentrated in the lower
income brackets. Also social welfare contributions that compensate
for the loss of regular income are an insignificant source of
income for pensioners. It means that pensioners in general do
not need such compensations. Income inequality of the total
population of Slovenia increased in the period from 1983-1993;
for pensioners and people 60+ no marked changes in income inequality
can be observed. The distribution of pensions has remained fairly
stable. »Pensioners and the elderly in general have improved
their relative income position during the transition period
in Slovenia … They were doubtlessly on the winning side»,
conclude their report Stanovnik and Stropnik (2000, p. 177)
and ask: »Who are the losers of transition in Slovenia?
The losers are the unemployed and the low-wage earners who have
been left out of the share in productivity growth.«
The position of single pensioner households, which are in fact
more commonly found in the lower income groups, is different;
this is especially true in the case of single retired women.
These individuals live a very modest life and are on the verge
of poverty (Stanovnik, 1997).
On average, pensions amount to approximately two-thirds of
the average salary and despite a slight increase in the amount,
the relationship between the two has remained more-or-less stable
since 1978 (cf. also Stanovnik, 1997). According to data for
2000, the average pension amounts to 68,1 percent of the average
salary, whereas the average old-age pension amounts to 75.3
percent of the average salary (SPIZ - Institute of Pension and
Disability Insurance, 2000). However, we cannot expect to maintain
such pensions in the future without additional saving. According
to Stanovnik, any person whose only source of income is a pension
will fall below the poverty line.
The general findings about poverty of the elderly can best
be summarised through the conclusions of Novak’s survey
research on quality of life of pensioners (1998): “1.
household income depends on education, not on gender and age;
2. pensioners can have lower standard of living, but it is highly
probable, that this correlation does not depend on pensioner
status; 3. the satisfaction with living conditions is not dependent
on the conditions themselves.” Old age and the pensioner
status are not a significant factor of poverty, concludes Novak.
Social exclusion and deprivation:
In Slovenia 87.2%
of all households owned an apartment or a house. Among pensioners
the percentage of apartment- or house-owners increased in the
years of transition, mainly as a consequence of very favorable
prices of purchase of apartments for tenants living in them,
during the privatisation of public tenant-housing funds. A research
covering a geographically limited region of Slovenia indicates
that the vast majority of elderly people, or their family members,
own their own apartments or houses (84% in three Gorenjska municipalities;
Klinar, 1997). A comparison of survey data on Quality of Life
in Slovenia, between employed persons and pensioners, shows
a bigger percentage of owners of apartments among pensioners
(80%) than among employed persons. On the other hand pensioners,
especially those older and with lower education more often live
in substandardly equipped apartments (Novak, 1998). Research
into the housing problems of vulnerable groups (Mandic, 1999)
mentions »older people« as being part of the vulnerable
group (which is not treated in greater detail), but also concludes
that younger generations would have nowhere to live if they
were not living with their parents. However, the housing standard
of elderly people, especially the older ones, who live in old
apartments, is often poor. Here, again, the average is satisfactory,
but there are sub-categories in which the situation is poor.
Since the majority of elderly are retired people,
the exclusion from employment doesn't seem on the first sight
as a meaningful category to apply as an indicator of their social
exclusion. Namely, the lost monetary gain of employment is compensated
(up to two thirds or three quarters) by the old age pension
after retiring. But there are social aspects of employment,
like maintaining of active attitude toward life, of social contacts
and networks, social status and similar, which after retirement
could be endangered, thus leading to the process of marginalization
and social exclusion.
Contrary to the expectations and contrary to the self-image
of Slovenians as heirs of a long history of literacy, and despite
flourishing cultural development of the nation in general and
of the educational system in particular, recent data, concerning
the educational level of the population, show some unwelcome
trends: nearly half of the general population has only elementary
education or less, and functional illiteracy (despite high level
of formal literacy) is widespread (Hanek, Gregorcic, 2000).
In a comparative research on functional literacy Slovenia is
on the 19th place among 22 western countries (Kodelja, 2000,
quoted after Hanek, Gregorcic, 2000). What is true for
the general population is even more true for the elderly since
the average level of education of the elderly is lower. The
survey of Adult literacy in Slovenia (quoted obove) shows that
pensioners as a category are among the groups with lowest functional
literacy (better than farm workers and housekeepers, but worse
than unemployed, employed and students).
For many elderly people it is difficult to cope with the modern
way of living with it's heavy use of all kinds of constantly
changing sophisticated technical equipment (from cars and computers,
to mobiles, audiovisual equippment and all kinds of automata
in public places). Ownership of cars and of audiovisual equipment
(besides color TV) is among the dimensions which discriminate
best between employed persons and pensioners (Novak, 1998).
As a consequence, in their everyday life, they recourse to simpler
ways, thus excluding themselves from the mainstream of society.
In addition to this, negative attitudes toward elderly and
discrimination of them (»ageism«) are an element
of social exclusion and contribute to it. There are no data
about the attitude of different segments of Slovenian population
toward the elderly as a cohort; but the impresion is that there
is no general or widespread negative attitude toward them. Some
kind of the traditional respect for the elderly has still been
preserved. But there is a feeling of resentment or envy in the
younger generation toward the older generation: the older generation
has well provided for itself through the establishment of an
expensive pension system (during socialism) causing now a defficit
in pension insurance funds, which persists despite the reformed
law on pension insurance, thus impeding the possibilities of
Beyond Material Poverty: Problems
of the Elderly
At the moment
the problems of the elderly in Slovenia are not to be found
in material conditions of their lives predominantly, but in
the need for help and care in the case of illness and inability,
in immediate social relationships within their families, and
in the attitude of the elderly toward themselves and their life.
The need for home-help and nursing
As the life-span increases,
so do age-related illnesses. With the general increase of the
number of elderly also the number and the percentage of very
old and ill increases. The well known Berlin study of elderly
people (Baltes, Mayer 1999) concludes that practically all people
aged over seventy years take some form of medication. This finding
counters the overly optimistic prediction of affliction-free
old age. As a consequence the number of elderly in institutions
has been increasing in Slovenia too (index 1999/1990 is 106
- but the increase is limited by the number of existing homes).
So does the number of elderly applicants for the institutions
and elderly who need home-help and care. On every 100 residents
of the homes for elderly there are 58 applications (the actual
number of applicants is lower since an unknown number of applications
are multiplied and sent to a number of homes).
Many families with an elderly member eventually face a situation
in which she or he requires not only occasional attention but
permanent caring. It is also true for Slovenia that elder members
of the family are usually cared for by a female family member,
usually a daughter or daughter-in-law. In research conducted
in a Ljubljana community (Jakic, 1997), only 37 percent of the
family members caring for an elder relative declared that it
was a responsibility they were »still capable of handling«,
whilst the remainder considered it a burden; 37 percent said
that it was a »significant physical and mental burden«.
Caring for the elderly at home is a heavy burden for those responsible,
as well as for the entire family. It can exhaust the family,
result in family conflict, and impair the health of those caring
for the elderly relative (Pentek, 1994).
Although very little is spoken about neglect
and abuse of the elderly, and violence toward them, the problem
does exist, both in families and retirement homes (Majhenic,
1999). Suicide among the elderly contributes to the sombre statistics
on suicide in Slovenia. The suicide coefficient is highest among
people aged about eighty years. The feelings of loneliness and
despair are partly the result of the unavoidable losses that
accompany old age and the breakdown of relationships and partly
originate in life led by superficial consumerist values and
are accompanied by feelings of emptiness and unfulfilled life.
Social processes, such as the migration of young families from
rural to urban areas, the decay of farms and farmsteads, as
well as other cultural and historical factors, contribute to
these. Lonesome dying in institutions is a problem to which
attention was called recently with the raise of hospice movement
Measures Against Poverty: Future
In the future well-being
of the elderly will – besides of the basic economic conditions
in the country and it's GDP – depend mainly on the realisation
of the reform of the pension system on one side and on the realisation
of the measures of the governmental anti-poverty programme which
includes changes in the welfare provisions and welfare system
on the other.
Reform of pension, disability
and health insurance
At the end of the year 2000 in Slovenia there were 485.079 retired
people, of these 287.568 recipients of old-age pensions (ZPIZ
2001). The total number of recipients of pensions exceeds the
total number of 65+ olds largely; even the number of recipients
of old-age pensions exceeds the number of persons 65+. Nevertheless
not all people 65+ are pensioners (in 1996 87,5% of persons
65+ were pensioners). Pensioners make up 24% of the whole population
(in 2000). Together pension and health insurance amount to 14.89
% of GDP (in 1997). All these are indicators of a broad-minded
system of pension insurance, inherited from socialism, which
in the period of transition stimulated early retirement. As
a consequence, the ratio of insured to retired persons dropped
from 1 : 3 in 1984 to 1 : 1,65 in 2000 (SPIZ 2001). It is not
necessary to say, that such a system presented a large burden
to the state budget, and was leading to an impasse in the future.
After years of preparation and discussion among political parties,
social partners and civil society, a new Pension and Disability
Insurance Act was passed in 1999, being in force since the beginning
of 2000. Even if it enacts new relationships, as a compromise
it does not go far enough to fully implement the changes anticipated
by the »white paper« launched at the beginning of
the campaign for the reform of this field. In the comparison
to the original proposal, the provisions that have been passed
are far more moderate and gradual, and the sluggish harmonisation
of pensions is taking place within a very long transitory period.
The »white paper« anticipated a new method for
determining the contributions rate for self employed persons,
separate disability insurance, »flexible« superannuation,
equal rights for both genders, and foremost, a system of funding
that will be based on the three pillars of pension insurance.
Only two of the anticipated changes have been fully implemented.
A new minimum contributions base for self employed persons has
been determined; changes to disability insurance include separate
contributions for disability insurance and for injury at work
or professional disease (valid only for employers). The difference
between the retirement period for men and women was not nullified,
but it was reduced; another novelty is that parenthood has replaced
motherhood as a factor in determining the retirement period.
»Flexible« superannuation has been introduced, but
with more modest incentives for increasing the length of service
than had been hoped for.
The reform proposal also anticipated three types of pension
and disability insurance, the so-called »three pillars
system«: compulsory insurance based on intergeneration
solidarity, insurance on the basis of pension savings accounts,
and compulsory and voluntary additional insurance. Voluntary
additional insurance has now been introduced alongside compulsory
insurance: this paves the way for the establishment of privately-owned
insurance organisations (pension mutual funds and public limited
companies) to which insurance premiums shall be paid either
by the insured persons or their employers, for which tax relief
shall be granted.
By the new law the eligibility for the old-age pension depends,
as by the old one, on age and contribution period. For the full
pension by the old law the required contribution period was
40 years for men and 35 for women; by the new law the contribution
period for women has been raised to 38 years. Retirement age
by the old law was 58 years men, 53 years women; by the new
law it is raised for women to 58 years.
Partial pension is possible for men with 63 years of age (58
for women with gradual increase to 61) and contribution for
at least 20 years; or for men with 65 years of age and women
with 60, for the contribution period of at least 15 years (women
gradually increase to 63 years). There are minimum and maximum
pensions established. The minimum pension base is 64% of the
net average wage; maximum pension base is established at four
times the minimum pension base. The ratio of maximum to minimum
pension should not exceed 4:1 ratio.
The new act attempts to compensate for the lowering of pensions
by introducing additional insurance. The proposers of the act
are of the opinion that a more radical reform will be required
in the mid-term. Until then, we can only hope that we shall
still be able to claim that the »position of pensioners
in Slovenia is, in relative terms, the best in the world«
(J. Mencinger, in: Štefanec, 1999), and that such a situation
will not have adverse effects on the position of younger generations.
When incorporating new funding, such as voluntary insurance,
the financial position of the pensioners in the future - according
to the expectations of the architects of the reform - should
not change significantly (Development Programme).
The Social Security and Health Insurance Act (1992-1993) reaffirmed
health insurance and abolished the state-controlled system of
health care. There have been changes in several fields: in the
introduction of new providers and the obligations of the providers;
in the network of health services providers (introduction of
the private sector); in the introduction of contractual partner
relations; in the introduction of compulsory and voluntary health
insurance. There is also greater emphasis on individual responsibility
for one's own health. Supposedly, the primary reason for the
reform is limited funding, considering, of course, the presumed
allocation of the funding, which can be a bone of contention.
It would seem, therefore, that despite the reforms and the
streamlining of both social welfare systems, the latter still
provide social security for elderly people.
National programme for the fight
The government adopted a National Programme for the Fight against
Poverty and Social Exclusion in February 2000. The Programme's
aim therefore is to co-ordinate, integrate and upgrade programmes
that only deal partially with these issues. The Programme is
based on the idea that steps to be taken in this area are urgent
and that neither poverty nor social exclusion can be eradicated
completely. It is important to reduce them by continuing activities
and to prevent the long-term exclusion of individuals and families
from everyday life in their social environments. This requires
the joint action of all ministries responsible for particular
areas, local communities, public services, and non-governmental
The Programme has two main goals: l. to help those facing the
conditions of poverty and social exclusion; 2. to prevent poverty
and social exclusion of people from critical social groups.
In order to meet these goals, it is most important to: 1. provide
jobs that ensure social security to everyone; 2. reduce the
number of dropouts from educational system and raise the level
of qualification; 3. provide more non-profit or social housing
and introduce subsidies for those who cannot cover the cost
of high rent; and 4. raise the level of social benefits for
those who cannot provide for themselves and introduce measures
to ensure that social benefits are only used to bridge the period
before going back to living independently. Thus, unemployment,
housing, education and survival benefits are the main targets
of the programme.
There is a number of changes in legislation foreseen by the
Programme, most of them having some relevance to the position
of the elderly (e.g. subsidising housing rents, minimal ensured
income), even if the accent of the Programme is on the prevention
of poverty and social exclusion of the younger and active population.
Changes in the social welfare field are of more direct consequence
to the elderly. The enactment of the Social Welfare Act in 1992,
led to the enactment of by-laws (Standing Orders on Standards
and Norms for Social Welfare Services) and to the adoption first
of the National Social Welfare Programme up to 2005, The Programme
for the Development of Social Welfare for the Elderly up to
2005, and of the Programme for the Development of Institutional
Care for the Elderly up to 2005 as well. The Social Welfare
Act introduced streamlining of the public contributions and
services, pluralizing providers of social welfare and the establishment
of a social welfare network at local level. A condition for
the establishment of a local network of social security providers
is the participation of the local communities, i.e. municipalities
that must assume their responsibility and its share of contribution
of funds to this cause.
The social welfare network consists of the providers of public
services (centres for social work, retirement homes, anticipated
regional centres for help at home, providers of other public
services within the living environment), providers in the private
sector (which is developing too slowly), non-governmental and
voluntary organisations, among which self help groups and organisations
of pensioners and elderly people play a special role. This picture
is completed by the informal sector - family, relatives, neighbourhood.
It is a tight network of public institutions and non-governmental
organisations in municipalities or local communities. Centres
for social work (of which there are 53 across Slovenia) are
carrying out public mandates (allocating financial assistance,
welfare of disabled persons, guardianship), social prevention
services (self-help groups for the elderly), social first aid
services, personal assistance services, assistance to families
at home and for the home, organising common activities. In addition
to their basic activity, homes for elderly (63 of them) also
offer external services, including delivering meals to local
population of elderly and nursing. Pensioners themselves have
a well-developed system of self-organisation.
It seems therefore, that in spite of less generous system of
pension and health insurance in the future, a number of measures
have been taken to prevent from poverty and social exclusion
of elderly people.
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makroekonomske analize in razvoj.
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domacem okolju na širšem mariborskem obmocju. (Social
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v Sloveniji do leta 2005. (Programme of development of welfare
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za delo druino in socialne zadeve.
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