Croatia - Social development

The effects of the 1991 war, the great refugee burden, the disruptions of the Bosnian war, the absence of significant international aid, and other factors combined to strain the country's social fabric and economy. In 1993, the average standard of living stood at less than 50% of its level before 1991. Over 400,000 Croats were displaced by the war and its aftermath.

Croatia's first pension laws date back to 1922, with most recent changes in 2002. The law provides for a dual system of a social system and mandatory private insurance. Health and maternity benefits, workers' compensation, unemployment coverage, and family allowances are also provided.

Women hold lower paying positions in the work force than men even though gender discrimination is prohibited by law. In 2000 legislation was passed to improve efforts to prosecute cases of domestic violence. Rape and spousal rape are grossly underrported, and there is only on women's shelter.

The constitution states that all persons shall enjoy all rights and freedoms, regardless of race, color, sex, language, religions, political opinion, national origin, property, birth, education or social status. However, ethnic tensions continue. Muslims and Serbs in Croatia face considerable discrimination. Serbs and Muslims are also often being denied citizenship based on Article 26 of the Law on Citizenship which allows national security to be used as a reason to reject citizenship applications. Noncitizens are denied many rights and privileges, including access to the social security system, pensions, free education, and employment in the civil service. Arbitrary detention and torture, abuse of detainees, and other human rights violations continue. The Roma population also suffers discrimination.

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