Since the beginning of the 1990s there has been a social insurance system with, among other things, child allowance, unemployment benefit and parental allowance. But it still has major shortcomings and government spending on social insurance was the lowest in the EU by the mid-2010s.
Pensions are very low for most pensioners. After tough political debate, in 2012, a decision was made to raise the retirement age from 62 years by three months a year (from 2014), to reach 65 in 2025.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Latvia, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Almost one third of the residents live under scarce circumstances and in various forms of exclusion. Latvia’s health level is low compared to other EU countries. In addition, the life expectancy of the residents is lower than the average in the Union and the death rate is higher. Increased poverty has, among other things, caused tuberculosis. The rapid spread of HIV has slowed down.
Society’s resources for health care are strained and do not meet the needs. Wages in healthcare are low, which leads to “gratitude gifts”, or bribes, to doctors. The private healthcare sector is growing rapidly, but most people cannot afford treatment there.
Abortions, divorces and suicides are relatively common. Alcoholism is widespread. Evaluations of the OECD cooperation organization, which measures how well the residents are comfortable with the living conditions in different countries, have long pointed out that the residents of Latvia are among the most dissatisfied in the EU.
The Mafia’s power has been broken, but there are organized crimes dealing with human trafficking, drug smuggling and money laundering.
Latvia is traditionally a hierarchical society. People are respected because of age and position. But people are aware of their rights, and through economic and political crises, a deep dissatisfaction has emerged with politicians and governments.
Historically, pre-emption or refreshment was the path to social careers, but during Latvia’s first period of independence (1918 – 1940), a Latvian middle class was created by officials and business people. During Soviet times, the high positions of society went to members of the Communist Party, mainly Russian immigrants. After the second independence in 1991, education has become a path to career, and young people have often taken over from the elderly. But still, contacts mean at least as much as merit. Some old networks from the Soviet era have survived in politics and business, where even oligarchs retained power. Corruption is a major problem that affects who gets influence.
The family is at the heart of the social structure. It still appears that three generations live in the same apartment, much due to housing shortage and for financial reasons. Parents sometimes provide for adult children and are often themselves supported on older days. Most families have only one or two children. Divorce totals are high and the single mothers many.
Society is male dominated. Forced equality, especially in working life, during the Soviet era received a backlash in independent Latvia after 1991. There is much discrimination against women professionally and economically, and alcoholism among men contributes to the abuse of women. However, several popular women with a prominent role in politics have contributed to a new outlook.
Latvian youth live as young people in Europe at large. Those under 25 do not remember the Soviet era and take the new open society for granted.
In Soviet times, homosexuality was forbidden, and there is still a low tolerance in society. Partnerships between people of the same sex are not allowed. Pride parades in Riga have been subjected to brutal violence several times, and the parade has been banned.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 3 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 0.4 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 98.6 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 92.1 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 5.8 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 874 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 16 percent (2018)
Presidential visit to Russia
President Valdis Zatlers becomes the first Baltic president in over 15 years to make an official visit to Moscow. Zatler and his Russian colleague Dmitry Medvedev agree to improve the strained relations between the two countries.
Dombrovskis forms a coalition between the Unity Alliance and the League of the Greens and Peasants. The new government has 55 of Parliament’s 100 seats.
Dombrovski wins the parliamentary election
Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovski’s Unit Alliance wins by close to 32 percent of the vote. In second place comes the Harmonic Center with just over 26 percent. The Green and Peasants’ Union gets 20 percent and the National Alliance close to 8 percent. (2/10)
Sky-high youth unemployment
Of Latvia’s young people, 39 percent lack work, which is the second highest level in the EU.
The economy is growing again
After a two-year reduction in GDP by a total of about 25 percent, the economy returns to growth in the second quarter.
Record high unemployment
Official figures show that unemployment has risen to 22.5 percent.
The People’s Party leaves the government
A conflict over the budgetary tightening leads to the People’s Party leaving the government. Prime Minister Dombrovskis loses his majority in parliament, which, against the government’s will, votes through a reduction in hotel VAT.
Unemployment is rising
Latvia registers an unemployment rate of 20 percent, the highest in the EU.