Anyone might need social protection
Riigikogu Toimetised invited three experts of social policy to the conversation circle of 27 May, in order to discuss Estonia’s social policy and social system: how our social system has developed, what the priorities of Estonia’s social security are, and what challenges the social system faces because of the economic recession.
The circle was attended by the Director of the Institute of Health Development Maris Jesse, professor of comparative administrative policy at the Institute of Political Science and Governance of the Tallinn University Anu Toots, and the member of the Riigikogu Social Affairs Committee and the Estonian Reform Party Tõnis Kõiv. RiTo Editor-in-Chief Helle Ruusing acted as the moderator and compiled a summary of the discussion. Participants of the circle thought that Estonia’s social system has developed in a logical and consistent manner and that its various components have largely been formed and are functioning. When it comes to health care and the social protection component of the health insurance, the participants concurred that the values agreed upon at the beginning of the 1990s have in principle been respected. The main value here is solidarity, which means that the healthier and the better remunerated segments of the society help to cover the medical expenses of those with lower income or more precarious health, or no income at all.
At the same time, as opposed to 1990s, fundamental problems of social policy receive too little attention and more limelight is thrown on details and current issues of the social system. When it comes to the newly or imminently unemployed, the problems of the younger generation, i.e. 20 to 30 year olds, were seen as the most poignant. This does not concern only young people with secondary education, but also university graduates. In the case of the latter, the situation is further complicated by the fact that their assumed financial obligations and their sense of high self worth do not correspond to the vacancies and salary packages currently on offer at the labour market. The vacancies do not satisfy the feeling of self worth of the young, while the salary packages would not cover their financial obligations, which mainly take the form of housing loans. The economic recession inevitably gives the job seekers cause to re-evaluate their high self worth. The opinion was expressed in the circle that a similar re-evaluation should also take place in the minds of the members of the Riigikogu and the Cabinet, in order to neutralise social strains.