The June survey conducted by STEM found that slightly over half the population (56 %) would be more inclined to support families with children than to increase old-age pensions. A clear majority (70 %) calls on the state to focus primarily on expanding social services rather than on increasing social welfare payments. Society is divided into two equal camps on whether to invest additional resources in environmental protection or to increase the various social welfare payments. This survey was conducted by the STEM non-profit institute (www.stem.cz) on a representative sample of the Czech population aged 18 and over from 13 to 21 June 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,061 people taking part in the survey.STEM has been systematically monitoring the opinions of Czech citizens on social policy issues in the long-term. The results of the surveys, conducted over a period of twenty years, have shown that since the second half of the nineties the Czech public has been considerably more in favour of helping families with children than pensioners. Ten years later saw the beginning of a shift in public opinion, with part of the population being more inclined to believe that pensioners were worse off. Nonetheless, those who are more in favour of supporting families are still in the majority, although the current survey found that the proportion of citizens who hold this view is at a historic low.
“Imagine if you had to decide on whether to increase old-age pensions or extend the level of financial support provided to families with children. Which of the two options would you choose?”
Source: STEM, Trends 1997-2016
How should social policy be put into practice: by offering additional services or increasing social welfare payments? Prior to 2000, opinion was divided equally, but after that, there was a rise in the proportion of people who believed that the state social protection system should be based more on expanding social services than on increasing social welfare payments. Over the years, this opinion has continued to become more prevalent among citizens (primarily in 2013 and 2014). The June survey saw a slight decline in this view, but it will take subsequent surveys to confirm whether this is a long-term change or merely a short-term blip.
“State social protection measures consist of two basic areas – social welfare payments and social services. Which of these two areas do you believe the Czech state should prioritise?”
Source: STEM, Trends 1997-2016
If people were to choose whether to invest more resources in environmental protection or increase the various social welfare payments, half the population would currently favour one area, the second half, the other. The current findings are identical to those of the November 2014 survey.
“Imagine if you had to decide on whether to invest additional financial resources in environmental protection or increase the various social welfare payments. Which of the two would you prioritise?”
Source: STEM, Trends 1998-2016
Opinions on pensions and social policy differ considerably according to the age, education, and the financial situation of respondents. Political orientation and party political preferences are also determining factors.The older the respondent, the more likely it is for him/her to have a preference for increasing old-age pensions. Older respondents are also more inclined to favour increasing various social welfare payments over investing in the environment. The majority of respondents in all age categories believe that expanding the spectrum of social services should take precedence over increasing social welfare payments.
Opinions on pensions and social policy (by respondents’ age, proportion of those in favour in %)
Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondents
In terms of education, the most significant differences in opinion were recorded in the respondents’ answers to the question regarding whether to increase social welfare payments or invest in the environment. The majority of respondents with a secondary or university education believed it was more important to prioritise environmental protection, whereas the reverse was true for those with a lower level of education.Those with a higher level of education were also somewhat more likely to call for an expansion of social services rather than an increase in social welfare payments. This group was also more inclined to favour providing additional support to families over increasing pensions.
Opinions on pensions and social policy (by education, the proportion of those in favour in %)
Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondents*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv. A Levels in the UK,High School Diploma in the US
Differences in the opinions of respondents according to party preference on the question of whether they would favour increasing pensions or providing additional support to families are largely determined by the age profile of the electorate of the various political parties. This is also one of the reasons Communist party (KSČM) supporters, who are in the older demographic, are least likely to prioritise support for families. By contrast, Christian Democrat (KDU-ČSL) and conservative TOP 09 supporters are most likely to favour providing support to families with children.Supporters of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and conservative TOP 09 prioritised investment in the environment over increasing social welfare payments. The majority of Communist party (KSČM) and Social Democrat (ČSSD) supporters are in favour of increasing social welfare payments.The majority of supporters of all parliamentary parties are of the view that expanding existing social services should take precedence over increasing social welfare payments.
Opinions on pensions and social policy (by political party preferences, the proportion of those in favour in %)
Source: STEM, Trends 2016/6, 1061 respondentsNote: Given their low representation in the group, figures for ODS, TOP 09 and KDU-ČSL supporters are only approximate.
ČSSD is the ruling Czech Socialist Democratic Party; ANO is centrist party and one of the junior coalition partners; KDU-ČSL is the Christian Democrats and one of junior coalition partners; TOP 09 is a conservative opposition party; ODS is the liberal-conservative Civic Democratic Party, a right-wing opposition party; KSČM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia).