Pensions and health insurance, which government employees
have enjoyed since the 1940s, also include members of the
cooperatives since 1971. Since 1963, medical treatment is
free for all, while drugs are subsidized. Mothers are
entitled to 6 months' leave in childbirth. Other social
services, e.g. childcare, it is also often subsidized or free.
The school is free at all levels, and the teaching materials
mean low prices. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of ALB and acronym for Albania.
An important element of wage policy is the far-reaching
equalization. In 1967 and 1976, the maximum wages for
government employees were lowered in order to reduce the
differences between the city and the countryside.
Furthermore, support for cooperatives in the mountain areas
has been introduced to equalize the income gaps between
these and the more productive units of the lowland. The
measures have a welfare policy purpose, but also involve an
attempt to stimulate production in the collective
agriculture and to hold back urbanization. Laws governing
the possibility of moving have been created for the same
purpose. One consequence is low social mobility and few
socially mixed marriages. Despite the significant
improvements, the regional variations in living standards
are still considerable. Thus, cities and districts in
western and southern Albania have better access to good
medical care, schools and consumer capital goods. These
areas also show lower infant mortality, longer life
expectancy and higher educational attainment.
The transition to a market economy has meant that
unemployment has increased rapidly; at the beginning of the
10th, it was estimated at 15 percent. In the hunt for work,
many people go to the cities.
Poverty is widespread, especially in rural areas, and the
gap between rich and poor is widening. About 14 percent of
the population lives below the national poverty line, and
many depend on the money that relatives working abroad send
home. Health care is free, as is medicine for children.
Albania has state health insurance, and in 1991 unemployment
insurance was introduced. Pensioners receive about 70
percent of their salary; the retirement age is 55-65 years
for men and 50-60 years for women.