Commentary Positive trend

The Czechs are not as poor as the left say they are

In terms of income poverty, 9.1 percent of Czechs were at risk of poverty in 2017, Eurostat and the Czech Statistical Office data shows. It is the lowest among the EU28, while the Union’s average was at 16.9 percent. However, the left is undermining our good results, often using deprivation and poorness of the Czechs as an explanation as to why they vote for extreme political groups.

Those also low at risk of poverty are the Finns at 11.5 percent, the Danes at 12.4 percent, but in Germany it is already over 16 percent. In the Czech context it means that 9.1 percent of the population didn’t reach a minimum wage of 11,200 CZK per month for a one-person household or 22,500 CZK for parents with two small children, respectively. In 2018, the number of Czechs threatened by poverty most likely decreased below 9 percent due to a lowering unemployment rate and rising minimum wage. Thus, an income inequality gap is narrowing.

Positive trends can be seen in terms of material deprivation, which examines whether a household would be able to pay various expenses like a week-long holiday or a washing machine. A severe material deprivation rate is defined as an inability to pay for at least four out of ten listed items. In 2017, 3.7 percent of Czech households experienced material deprivation, and in 2018 it went even lower thanks to the above mentioned narrowing of the income gap.

Again, the EU’s average was much higher than the year before last at 6.9 percent. Less materially deprived people are for example in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. Austria equals to the Czech Republic and higher rates show Italy and France among others. In Slovakia, material deprivation is nearly doubled.

Yet, the left is frequently trying to undermine these results. It is understandable to some extent, especially regarding the wage level. But in general, if the data doesn’t reflect the reality accurately, then why isn't the left criticizing Eurostat and the CSO? Moreover, material deprivation is always hard to question as it takes the income level into account.

Apparently, the data is valid. However, they don’t show the Czechs as deprived people who vote for extreme political groups out of desperation. If true, the Czech progressive left would have to proclaim the same also in regard to Austria, France, Italy and Slovakia.

Even if the situation was worse in the Czech Republic then in the above mentioned countries, would more redistribution be the solution as the left suggest? If the state is unable to collect valid data, as the left tends to claim, why should we trust it with an even more difficult task? And who are those who need it anyway?

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