Elderly women living alone are at high risk of poverty

Photo: Filip Jandourek

Elderly Czech women living alone are at an increased risk of poverty, according to a survey released by the Czech Statistics Office. Fifteen percent of Czechs aged over 65 and living alone are threatened with poverty and women’s risk of poverty is almost double, compared with men, the study says.

Photo: Filip Jandourek
About half a million elderly Czechs live alone and almost 80 percent of them are women. This generation of pensioners relied heavily on pensions from the state and their income mainly consists of low pensions paid out from the public pay-as-you go pension system. People with less than 60 percent of the monthly median income (which was 9,900 crowns in 2014, the time when the study was conducted by the Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs) fall into the poverty category and the old age pensions most people receive are just over or under that margin.

A total of 2.4 million Czechs currently receive an old age pension from the state. Out of them 10 percent receive a monthly pension lower than 8, 352 crowns. In 2014, women’s monthly average pension was 10,000 crowns, and men’s 12,200.

According to the survey nine in ten poor Czechs aged over 65 are women, putting the Czech Republic near the top end of the EU’s list of states with the highest share of women among seniors threatened by or living in poverty. Pensioners with an elementary education face a three-times higher risk of poverty than university graduates.

According to the study the present system of additional private pension-saving schemes plays a marginal role in fighting old age poverty, because people save only a low sum. Moreover, the schemes are mainly joined by those with a high salary, whose old age pension would be high enough anyway.

The study recommends that the state take steps to make old age pension-saving schemes more effective and increase public awareness of the need to consider their post-retirement means and the different strategies open to them.