The noncontributory social insurance program, administered by state organizations, included retirement pensions and compensation for disability and maternity leave. Funds for social insurance payments came from the state budget. Total expenditures increased from 13 million leks (for value of the lek--see Glossary) in 1950 to almost 1.8 billion leks in 1987, according to official statistics.
The government had granted retirement benefits to workers, including employees of state farms, since the late 1940s. Depending on job type, full retirement pensions (70 percent of an individual's average monthly earnings during any three consecutive years within the last ten years worked) were awarded to male workers between the ages of fifty and sixty after twenty to twenty-five years of work, and to female workers between the ages of forty-five and fifty-five after fifteen to twenty years of work. Pensions ranged from L350 to L700 (US$52 to US$104) monthly. Workers who reached retirement age but had worked less than the number of years required to receive full pension payments were eligible for partial pensions, computed on the basis of time in service. After the full collectivization of agriculture in 1972, social insurance benefits were extended to the peasants. Retirement pensions were granted to male peasants at the age of sixty-five, after twenty-five years of work, and to female peasants at the age of fifty-five, after twenty years of work.
Disability payments were made at the rate of 85 percent of average earnings for the last month worked; persons with less than ten years' service received 70 percent; temporary or seasonal workers got less. When a disability was directly workrelated , compensation was granted at the rate of 95 percent for most trades and 100 percent for miners.
Pregnant women were entitled to a total of six months' leave. During that period, they received 75 to 95 percent of their regular earnings, depending on length of service, and were permitted to work reduced hours after returning to their jobs. Subsidized day-care facilities were provided for children six months of age or older. A woman could remain at home for limited periods to care for a sick child and collect 60 percent of her average pay. If it was considered medically necessary for a mother to stay in the hospital with her sick child, she received 60 percent of her average pay during the entire hospital stay.
In the early 1990s, although the rebirth of religion appeared well underway, the education and health care systems, indeed the structure of Albanian society, continued to deteriorate. Albanians began looking toward democratic opposition groups to replace their communist rulers and to lead the country toward a modern, civil society.
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Albania: A Socialist Maverick, by Elez Biberaj, contains a good overview of contemporary Albanian society. A broad range of statistical data on past and present social structure may be found in the Statistical Yearbook of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania, and occasionally also in articles published by the English-language monthlies New Albania and Albania Today. Albania's diverse cultural history is explored in Stavro Skendi's Balkan Cultural Studies. Conscience and Captivity: Religion in Eastern Europe, by Janice A. Broun, provides valuable insights into the country's religious heritage and describes the communist regime's campaign against religion. Human rights violations are meticulously documented by the Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee in its 1990 report, Human Rights in the People's Socialist Republic of Albania. For a comprehensive analysis of Albania's postwar rural transformation, Örjan Sjöberg's Rural Change and Development in Albania is recommended. The RFE/RL Research Report (formerly Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Report on Eastern Europe) regularly reviews recent sociopolitical and socioeconomic developments in Albania and neighboring Kosovo. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
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