Welfare and poverty
In 2015, Montenegro ranked 48th among 188 countries when calculating the Human Development Index (HDI). Living conditions had deteriorated sharply during the 1990s and only a few years into the 00s were marked improvements. In 2008, almost 5% of the population was below the national poverty line. The following year, conditions deteriorated again (see Business and Industry). In 2011, 9.3% were poor and about 5% malnourished. Unemployment and rising living costs have meant that the proportion of poor people has continued to increase and is highest in the country’s northern part. Paperless refugees and the small minorities Roma and Egyptians (see Population) has the most difficulty. More than a third of them lived in 2009 during the poverty line. The differences between the poor and the rich are greater than in the neighboring countries.
Following the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991, a decade of major problems and high unemployment followed in all the former Länder, including Montenegro. A transition to a market economy started in earnest in the 1990s. entailed a restructuring of the companies and attempts to improve efficiency. This led to fewer employees in many workplaces and also changes in social security. During the financially good years 2006–08, unemployment fell, but it has risen thereafter, as Montenegro has not been able to avoid the consequences of the international economic crises. Governments have not been able to create new jobs. due to a lack of capital both domestically and internationally. At the end of 2013, unemployment was just over 19%, higher among women, lower among men. Long-term unemployment is common among young people who lack adequate education. However, unemployment is lower in Montenegro than in neighboring countries.
The Constitution provides for freedom of association and meeting and unions may operate without restrictions. Strict law exists and strikes and demonstrations are directed at corruption as well as against low wages, large price increases and delayed salary payments. The law provides for at least 18 working days paid vacation. Maternity leave with full pay is given for one year. Men and women have equal opportunities for parental leave, but it is very rare for men to take advantage of it.
In the 1990s, much of the former social insurance system was razed and since the beginning of the 1990s new systems have been built up, adapted to a liberal economy and largely in line with conditions in the EU. Social insurance covers pension, disability, sickness and unemployment insurance and applies to the employee and his or her family. Employer and salary contributions for all registered employees are paid into a state fund. Anyone who is not registered as an employee will be without protection, unless he has his own insurance, which is very unusual. Those who work in the informal, “gray” sector thus lack social protection networks. Self-employed people and farmers pay a social security fee which is calculated on the taxable income. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of MNE and acronym for Montenegro.
The retirement age is now gradually changing. In 2013, it was 65 years for men and 60 years for women, and eventually it should be 67 years for everyone. 15 working years are required to receive a pension. Those who do not have insurance cover receive social assistance that is covered by the state budget. Government costs of this kind have increased and are burdensome.
The funds in the state health insurance fund are intended to cover most of the costs incurred in the treatment of state health care and also the expenses for some medicines and rehabilitation as well as routine dental care. Emergency care should be provided to everyone, even those without insurance. The costs are regulated afterwards.
At the beginning of the 2010s, there are around twenty state health centers that will cover the need for primary care in all municipalities and, if necessary, provide referral to the next level in health care. This includes seven general hospitals in different parts of the country, as well as four specialty healthcare institutions. At the highest level of the health care system is the country’s central hospital in Podgorica. In addition, there are hundreds of private practitioners, medical ambulances and small private hospitals. The medical profession is considered to be well educated while there are often major shortcomings in terms of premises and equipment. In 2006, there were only 2 doctors per 1,000 residents, and the lack of resources in recent years has meant that the state has not been able to expand healthcare as needed. The waiting times are long in the state medical service. Private healthcare is therefore an important complement and private clinics are well equipped, but the costs are not reimbursed by the public health insurance system. In line with the efforts to privatize operations in the country, foreign companies wishing to become part of joint venture companies are also sought in the healthcare sector. Much of the dental care is private. The state health insurance only includes routine checks, and major treatments can be paid for yourself or through private insurance.
In many respects, health care in Montenegro has made great progress since the beginning of the 1990s. Infant mortality has more than halved, the proportion of children dying before the age of five has decreased from just over 11 ‰ 2003 to just over 7 ‰ 2011, and maternal mortality has been reduced and in 2010 was 8 deaths per 100,000 births. As in most other countries, the spectrum of illnesses has changed, and serious illnesses are increasingly related to lifestyle, such as dietary and smoking habits. Sanitary conditions have improved and in 2010 they were satisfactory for 96% of urban residents and 89% in rural areas.
Discrimination and equality
An anti-discrimination law applies from 2010, but it is slowly being implemented and deficiencies, since the interests of small, disadvantaged groups have not been clearly guarded.
Much of basic social service and even own business are linked to citizenship, which is difficult and time-consuming to obtain. This mainly affects refugees and those belonging to the small minorities, who usually lack identity documents and are not registered in the population. Most of them have not completed basic education, become long-term unemployed and therefore do not enter social security. In 2011, about 24,000 refugees were estimated to be in the country, most from Kosovo and some of them Roma. There is a higher degree of consensus among different ethnic groups in Montenegro than in neighboring countries, but the population generally has significant prejudices against Roma.
Discrimination on the grounds of sex is prohibited in accordance with the constitution and the law of 2010 clearly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, intolerance to homosexuals is high in Montenegro and LGBTQs are among the most marginalized groups. People with disabilities are also at risk, especially mentally disabled. Many of them live in isolation in the family or in an institution and very few have work.
The proportion of women working in employment has increased slightly over the past decade, but they still account for just over 40% of the entire workforce. The wage differences between men and women in equal work are considerable. Women in higher positions are rare, but well-educated women have become more common and now women make up half of the students at the universities. According to the new electoral law in 2011, 30% of candidates in parliamentary elections and in local elections must be women. This has led to increased female representation, and in December 2012 women held 17% of the seats in the parliament and 18% of the ministerial posts in the government.
Crime and punishment
According to the constitution, the death penalty is prohibited, even during war, and torture is punished. In recent decades there have been no resources to expand and improve prisons. They are overcrowded and there are many abuses. The shortage of resources is also evident in the fact that the courts are overburdened, the processing times are often very long and the judges are low-paid, which together invites corruption.
Corruption is widespread in various parts of society and is seen as a remnant of ancient Yugoslavia. It is a habitual behavior that is promoted by weak management and is difficult to overlook and access. A common form is to pay an extra amount in advance, without request, to expedite a process or treatment. Poor transparency in the work of the authorities leads to recurring suspicions of illegality, e.g. in the case of privatizations. Corruption, inefficiency and lack of transparency mean that Montenegro is considered to have low legal certainty internationally. Also included in this picture is that the freedom of expression and the press are not satisfactory.
Violence against women in the home is not uncommon but is rarely reported. The reason for this may be lack of confidence in the judiciary or the fact that many women do not know their legal rights in this patriarchal society. Since 2010 there has been a law on protection against violence in the family, but it is not applied in practice. Human trafficking and trafficking are combated.
Extensive organized crime emerged in the wake of the wars, and the smuggling of drugs and weapons is a major problem. Montenegro is on the smuggling route to and from the EU and the country has too little capacity to investigate such crimes.