The Institute of Sociology and Social Policy of the Corvinus University of Budapest conducted a Deliberative Poll in the summer of 2008 in Kaposvár, Hungary. The topics were employment, job creation and the employment policy of the European Union.
Background History and Context
Kaposvár Small Area is located in Southern Transdanubia in Somogy county. From the 11 small area of the Somogy county Kaposvár small area has the most settlements (54 settlements belong there), despite the fact that in January 2008 23 settlement left the small area and formed the Kadarkut- Nagybajom small area and is working on independently. The centre of the county, Kaposvár is the only town in the small area, the number of habitants is 67,746. The second biggest settlement in population is Taszar with 2,089 habitants. In the small area with a population of 101,309 this way Kaposvár has the two third of habitants.
According to sociological researches and a recent poll of the Hungarian Gallup Institute unemployment is the greatest problem in the region. In Hungary 55 % of the population in working age (15-64) work in officially administered jobs. The average in the European Union is 64%. The region’s activity rate is just slightly below the Hungarian average (54%).
As for unemployment the region’s conditions are worse. The rate of unemployment (according to the ILO standards) was 17% at the end of the last year whilst the national average was 10%. In other words Somogy County’s position is the 4th worst in the country in this respect. 1/3rd of the unemployment is lasting more than a year, which is a very unfavourable condition again.
After the transition as a function of changing social and economical conditions the labour market changed remarkably. This process manifested in significantly decreasing number of employees and increasing unemployment. The decrease in the number of employees characterised the agriculture to the greatest extent. The decrease was less important in the education, in the health service and in public service.
The employment centre of the area is Kaposvár. 80% have their workplace there. In the villages the biggest employer is the local government and there is also some agricultural work. But for the majority of the people Kaposvár is the only opportunity for a job.
From the 46 thousand employees in the area 13 thousands work in industry and construction, 30 thousand in the service industries and only 3 thousands in agriculture. The employment rate of the population aged 15 and 64 was 53,7% in the small area and 61,6% in Kaposvár. The unemployment rate (the registered job-seekers at a rate per cent of active age group population) 15,4% in the small area and 9% in Kaposvár.
Regarding unemployment the number of registered unemployed in Somogy county was 25 471 in February 2008, 3 464 in Kaposvár. 34% of the registered unemployed were long-term unemployed which means that they were without job for more than 1 year, in Kaposvár this rate was 33%.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
In May 2008 a representative sample of the inhabitants of Kaposvár Small Area has been polled (n=1514) on the themes of employment, job creation and the European Union. The respondents of the survey have been invited to participate to the deliberative weekend. A briefing material, containing information and facts about employment and pros and cons about the possible measures and policies that could facilitate the discussion, has been sent out for all of those 435 persons who were willing to come. At the end 108 persons have participated to the event held at the Kaposvár University on the 21-22 of June 2008. During this weekend the participants have discussed the themes with each other in small groups of 5-10 and with invited experts during plenary sessions.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
There was a significant change in terms of the perception of the protection of national industries and the open market: the proportion of those favouring an open market has increased.
Before the deliberation about two thirds of the respondents thought that it should be made difficult for employers to fire – this opinion slightly increased after the deliberation. The proportion of those who thought that finding a job is one’s own responsibility increased from 26% to 44% after the deliberation, whilst the proportion of those insisting on the government’s responsibility has dropped from about 40% to 21%.
Opinions on the reasons of becoming unemployed have also changed after the deliberation. Living in deprived settlements became more accentuated – 58% thought that living in a deprived settlement was true for the unemployed which increased to 77% by the end of deliberation.
There was no change in terms of the perception of the lack of skills as a reason of becoming unemployed. Similar number of people thought that it was either not true (17%) or true (59%) before and after the deliberation.
Regarding the different measures to deal with unemployment opinions were very positive both before and after deliberation. The proportion of those supporting active measures of employment policy, namely labour market services, training support, wage- and contribution-type subsidies, communal work or support for self-employment was more than or about 80% in all cases. Passive measures of employment like the job search allowance and benefit was supported by 65% whilst the regular social aid by about half of the respondents.
The effect of the deliberation could be noticed in that the number of respondents opposing job search allowance and benefit and the regular social aid dropped from 16% to 5%. Furthermore the support for communal work or self-employment decreased from 88% to 69% and 90% to 76% respectively.
The opinions on who should get allowances and on what conditions have also changed. The proportion of respondents saying that allowances should be paid only to those who are working for them has decreased and the proportion of respondents stating that everyone who is in difficulty should be taken care of have increased after the deliberation.
Opinions on illegal work on which taxes are not paid remained stable. The proportion of respondents supporting or opposing governmental measures against it was more or less the same before and after the deliberation.
There was an important shift in the opinions on the question whether unemployment is nowadays avoidable. The proportion of respondents stating that it cannot be avoided has significantly increased.
Another important opinion change occurred on the issue of taxation. After the deliberation there were fewer respondents stating that the government should decrease taxes even if this meant less funding for education, health care and pensions.
In European countries today, political decisions can be made at three different levels of government: at regional level, at national level, and at the level of the European Union. The following table contains respondents’ opinion on which governmental level fighting unemployment should be dealt with.
Along with the changes in opinion and attitudes there was a change in terms of the overall knowledge on the issues addressed – this change was rather due to the deliberative weekend and less to the briefing material distributed before the event. For example at the end of the event significantly higher proportion of the participants could tell correctly who can apply for regular social aids. On the other hand there was no great change in the correct answers regarding the unemployment rate in Hungary, the EU or Kaposvár after the deliberation.
Taken directly from https://cdd.stanford.edu/2008/results-deliberative-polling-about-unemployment-and-job-creation-in-the-area-of-kaposvar/