June the 2nd, 2023 – For Croats over 50, life in Croatia generally isn’t bad, but it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows either. While most of this demographic typically have property under their belts, they generally don’t have cash in their wallets.
Keys to doors but empty pockets?
As Poslovni Dnevnik/Josipa Ban writes, most Croats over 50 own their own properties, which is something that people of the same demographic who live in much richer countries than Croatia, such as Germany and Scandinavian nations, typically cannot boast about.
In addition to that, they tend to have a very rich and strong social network, which contributes to a better quality of life, physical health and mental health. However, economically speaking, Croats over 50, just like the rest of the nation, find themselves in a generally worse position than their counterparts in more developed countries.
The above has been clearly shown by data from the SHARE project, which is a piece of research on health, ageing and retirement across Europe. Researchers from the Zagreb Faculty of Economics have been conducting this research since 2015 and have conducted four waves of exhaustive surveys among people over fifty in Croatia to date.
The Mediterranean diet isn’t necessarily all it is cracked up to be…
The SHARE project destroyed the myth that the inhabitants of southern Europe live more healthy lifestyles because of a better quality Mediterranean diet. “The socio-economic situation is a much more important factor when it comes to the health status of the population, and in this regard we can see big differences between the East and the West, and even the North and the South of Europe,” points out Sime Smolic, the head of the SHARE Croatia project and a professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Economics. At the presentation of the results of the project, Smolic notes that his goal is to understand the process of demographic ageing, that is, how the ageing process affects society and social, health and pension policies.
Demographic issues present in Croatia are a problem across Europe
“The data we collected is important because they enable policy makers to adopt better measures and programmes whose goal should be to raise the quality of life,” the project leader points out. Ultimately, the beneficiary of this project, which is implemented across all EU countries and further afield in Israel, is the Ministry of Labour, and it is co-financed by the European Union. The results should shed a lot of light in a significant way because Croatia, much like all of Europe, is facing a major demographic issue as a result of an ever-ageing population.
The biggest problems that Croats over 50 face, apart from lack of money, are insufficient capacities for long-term healthcare. “These systems are still developing in all post-socialist countries,” says Smolic, adding that more developed Western European countries are much more advanced in this regard. In addition, de-institutionalisation, i.e. ageing at home, is the next important challenge that we must pay attention to, as the number of single households will grow significantly going forward.
What is the government actually doing?
Smolic believes that the Croatian Government has launched a series of projects with the aim of improving the living standards of certain demographics. One of them is Zazeli, an employment programme for difficult-to-employ women. However, we still have to work on the projects of long-term healthcare and work activation of the older population. We also need to work on the pension system and stimulate the growth of what are typically very low pensions in Croatia.
Marin Piletic, Minister of Labour, stated that this is why they have established a working group that will work on the reform of the pension system. The government claims that it is also working on de-institutionalisation and prevention of institutionalisation.
“That’s why we’re strengthening the infrastructure and providing non-institutional services throughout Croatia. For this, in the coming financial period and through the European Social Fund, we’ve secured EUR 90 million for infrastructure and a little less than EUR 200 million for the continuation of various activities that social welfare institutions will carry out,” Piletic confirmed.