Written by: Anita Lišková
ECONOMY: Czech companies suffering from excessively rapid wage growth
In addition to a strong crown and weakening demand for goods, Czech companies must also now deal with record wage increases. In the third quarter of 2002, the average monthly gross paycheck rose 7.4% year-on-year to CZK 15,442. With strikingly low inflation (just 0.7%), real earnings rose at the highest rate in the last three years. According to analysts, the change has been too rapid, outstripping work productivity. The situation was similar three years ago, but at that time the Czech economy was gathering significant steam in the aftermath of a recession, while today economic growth is a mere 1.5%. The result: in the near future, we can anticipate a noticeable rise in unemployment.
HEALTH: Promoting better health
A new government program, called Good Health for Everyone in the 21st Century, is intended to significantly influence Czech lifestyles. The primary focus will be to change eating habits and physical condition, with stress also placed on cutting down automobile traffic and associated emissions. Two key targets will be tobacco and alcohol. The government plans to officially recommend limiting alcohol consumption to six liters of pure spirit per year per capita, down from the current 10, and to promote a ban on the advertising of alcohol and tobacco products. Also, soldiers, professional drivers, and chemical or power industry employees will be more frequently subjected to on-the-job alcohol testing. The stated goal of the program is to adopt a healthier overall lifestyle by 2015.
SOCIETY: The changing face of the average family
According to the Czech Statistical Office, what does the typical Czech family look like? Based on census information gathered in 2001, it’s evident that Czech families are splitting up and getting smaller. Although the census showed that the typical family has two children, in the near future, say statisticians, this will be reduced to only one. The majority of families live in 3-room flats, while a full third of the citizenry lives in towns and cities with populations of 50 000 or more inhabitants. The number of children born out of wedlock is increasing (in 1991 it was roughly 8,5%, in 2001 the number was 22%), while after divorce a child most frequently lives with the mother. Yet, the number of single fathers taking care of their children jumped a third since the beginning of ’90s. Even though in the last ten years the number of nuclear families diminished by 180 000, they still make up 71% of the population.