4.1 General context
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According to the decision of Government of Croatia new The National Plan to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion 2021-2027 that was brought in December 2021, ten groups at the highest risk are set out:
- children and youth;
- the elderly and pensioners;
- the unemployed, especially the long-term unemployed;
- single households, single-parent families, children without parental care, families with more than two children;
- returnees and displaced persons, asylum seekers, foreigners under subsidiary protection, asylum seekers, persons living in deprived areas and in rural areas;
- national / racial / religious minorities;
- children and young adults with behavioral problems, victims of crime, especially victims of trafficking and victims of domestic violence;
- children with disabilities;
- Croatian veterans and victims of the Homeland War and members of their families, as well as civilian victims of the Homeland War and members of their families facing problems such as poverty, social exclusion, disability, unemployment, illness, unresolved housing, difficult social contacts, without support families, etc.;
The causes of poverty and social exclusion are usually multidimensional, and risk categories often overlap. Nowadays, there are large numbers of young people who are at risk of social exclusion who do not necessarily fall into the existing classification of minority groups (young Roma, young people with disabilities, young people without adequate parental care, etc.).
Modern problems, such as the high percentage of youth unemployment in the Republic of Croatia and the prolongation of parent-dependent time, have led to increasing numbers of young people being at risk of social exclusion according to categories of education, housing, employment, poverty and health care.
Due to the large differences in the characteristics of young people at risk of social exclusion, engagement of many support systems is needed. It is therefore important to coordinate the actions of all stakeholders at different levels of society and in different areas, especially in the areas of employment and education, and the transition from education to employment, where the greatest risks occur.
When it comes to youth unemployment, there have been positive changes in the period from 2016 to 2020, but the unemployment rate remains high (see chapter 3.1.) In addition to statistics on youth unemployment, research entitled ‘Needs, Problems and Potentials of Youth in Croatia’, published in January 2015 has indicated that young people themselves view unemployment as the most significant problem in their group. Unemployment directly influences their ability to become independent, plan for the future, build one's own skills and capabilities, and enrich one's own education.
Furthermore, in Croatia the poverty and social exclusion rate is at 19.1% in 2020 for young people aged 16-24. The percentage is in continuous descending from 2011 when the risk was at 34.8%. (EUROSTAT).
The National Plan to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion 2021-2027 emphasises differentiation between poverty and social exclusion.
The term poverty is mostly defined as a lack of material or financial assets. The term social exclusion has a wider meaning that needs to be understood as a relatively permanent, multiply conditioned and multidimensional deprivation of an individual. Social exclusion involves more than a shortage of money or material goods, and in addition to the economic, it includes social, cultural, political and other dimensions. It means that anti-exclusion policies presume a better access to institutions and other mechanisms of social integration.
The National Plan to Combat Poverty and Social Exclusion 2021-2027 refers to the European Commission's definition of social exclusion as a process that pushes individuals to the margins of society and prevents them from fully participating in society, by virtue of their poverty, a lack of basic competences, chance for lifelong learning or due to discrimination. It is affected by a series of different and interconnected factors, such as regional inequality, unemployment, poor professional or social skills, low income, bad housing conditions, belonging to a minority group, etc. It includes the inability of the individual to access public services, to participate in community life and to function in society with a feeling of personal dignity.
Ilišin; Spajić Vrkaš, 2013.Needs, problems and potentials of youth in Croatia. Report. Zagreb: Former Ministry of Social Policy and Youth (last accessed 28/01/2022).