A clear majority of the public (70 %) believes that the state should guarantee employment for those who wish to work. Two-thirds of citizens (59 %) consider a certain level of unemployment to be a positive thing which leads to a greater respect for work. Over half the population (57 %) believes that the majority of people who are unemployed have no real interest in working, a significant increase since our last survey in 2014 (up 18 percentage points).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 4 to 13 May 2016. Respondents were selected using a quota sampling method, with some 1,292 people taking part in the survey.In the context of positive developments in employment in the Czech Republic and the decline in fear of unemployment among economically active citizens, it is interesting to take a look at current attitudes towards the unemployed and towards the role of the state with regard to the issue of unemployment.A large majority of the Czech population (70 %) is inclined to believe that the state should take on an active role in tackling the problem of unemployment; in effect, they believe that the state should guarantee jobs. A third of respondents are firmly of this opinion. A roughly three-fifths majority of citizens (59 %) consider a certain level of unemployment to be a positive phenomenon which encourages people to take greater responsibility and increases respect for work. A similar proportion (57 %) believe that the majority of unemployed are people who are not interested in working.
Source: STEM, Trends 2016/5, 1292 respondents
STEM has been monitoring public attitudes towards unemployment and the unemployed for 23 years now. The surveys conducted over the years have shown that attitudes towards this issue have remained relatively consistent in recent years. Opinions on whether the state should be obliged to guarantee jobs for those who wish to work have remained most stable. In 1993 the vast majority of people (roughly 80 %) shared the opinion that a certain level of unemployment was a positive phenomenon. As unemployment increased, however, this proportion gradually decreased. Up until 2010 this proportion remained above the 60% mark, whereas in recent years it has been slightly under 60 percent.The dominant attitude following the establishment of the independent Czech Republic and again during the economic boom years of 2007 and 2008 was that the unemployed were people who were not really interested in finding a job. From 2009 onwards this was the minority opinion (at roughly 40 %). However, the current survey indicates a substantial shift in opinion and – similar to in 1993 – a majority of citizens now believe that most of those who are unemployed are not really interested in finding work.
Source: STEM, Trends 1993-2016
The survey found that the over 60s (62 %), students (61 %), pensioners (62 %), and white-collar workers (61 %) are somewhat more inclined to believe that the majority of unemployed are not really interested in finding work. As we have already pointed out, the proportion of people who agree with this opinion is now significantly higher than for our last survey, conducted in May 2014. A comparable increase has been recorded across the various socio-demographic groups, the only exception being among blue-collar workers where the increase was less pronounced (only 7 percentage points).University graduates and employees who are experts or specialists in their field are less inclined to believe that the state has the obligation to guarantee jobs (although, even in this category, a slight majority believe so: 57 % and 58 %, respectively). By contrast, university graduates are significantly more often inclined than those with a primary education or apprenticeship to believe that unemployment makes people value work more and is therefore a positive phenomenon.
Source: STEM, Trends 2016/5, 1292 respondents*Secondary School Leaving Certificate, equiv.A Levels in the UK, High School Diploma in the US
Attitudes towards unemployment and the unemployed are also influenced by political orientation. On one side of the political spectrum, left-wing citizens emphasise an obligation on the part of the state to guarantee jobs and are less likely to consider the unemployed as people who have no real interest in finding work and unemployment as a positive phenomenon. By contrast, right-wing citizens are of the opposite opinion.
Source: STEM, Trends 2016/5, 1292 respondents