Czechs - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Before World War II, agriculture, commerce, and industry were for the most part in private hands. After the Communist takeover in 1948, commerce and industry were completely nationalized, and virtually all agricultural production came to be based on unified agricultural cooperatives (1,025 in 1987) and state farms (166 in 1987). The cooperatives employed about four times as many workers as the state farms. Because of a fairly high level of mechanization, the total number of persons engaged in agriculture is about one-fourth of those employed in industry.

Industrial Arts. During the nineteenth century, Bohemia became the industrial heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was known not only for its heavy industry but also for a long and distinguished tradition of ceramic, glass, and textile manufacture.

Trade. Until the introduction of socialism after World War II, the economy was to a considerable extent capitalistic. After 1948, all commerce was managed and controlled by the state. The inefficiency of central planning was compensated for by a "second economy"—obtaining goods or services in short supply by barter or by paying someone willing to perform a service on a private basis. Relying on acquaintances to get things done (networking) was widespread. Privatization of business and industry began in 1990, but it is likely to proceed slowly. A vigorous economy may take years to reestablish.

Division of Labor. Women have made significant strides since World War II in terms of education, employment opportunities, and participation in public life, and they have benefited from social legislation. However, some of the discriminatory practices and behaviors found in many parts of the world exist in CR as well—in particular, the disproportionately large number of women in the lower half of the pay scale and the excessive demands on employed women to do far more than their share of child-rearing and household tasks.

Land Tenure. Since the late 1940s, the vast majority of land has been publicly owned. The few exceptions include small gardens, adjacent to family dwellings or on the outskirts of large towns, and small plots (on the order of half a hectare) that members of unified agricultural cooperatives are allowed to hold for family use.


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