Population and Economy of Serbia

Population of Serbia

Between 1948 and 2001, the population increased by 3.6 million people, mainly due to the high birth rate in the first post-war decades. From con. 1970s and especially in the crisis of the 1990s. the birth rate dropped sharply (2001 – 12.2‰), the death rate began to grow (10.6‰) and the natural increase decreased (1.6‰). It remains high (14.8‰) only in Kosovo and Metohija due to the high birth rate among the Albanian population, whose share is constantly growing. Child mortality is steadily declining (in 2001, 13.1 per 1,000 newborns).

In the structure of the population, 49.6% are men, 50.4% are women. Children under 15 years old make up 20%, young people aged 15-29 years old – 22%, people aged 30-44 years old – 21%, 45-64 years old – 23%, 65 years and older – 13%. The average age is 37 years, the average life expectancy for men is 70 years, for women 75 years (2001). Retirement age: 65 for men, 60 for women.

The share of the urban population (1991 – 51%) is growing rapidly due to migration from the villages. In addition to Belgrade, there are five large cities (more than 100 thousand inhabitants) – Novi Sad, Nis, Kragujevac, Podgorica and Subotica.

According to the 1991 census, the economically active population was 44% (according to an estimate for 2001 – 38% without data for Kosovo and Metohija), agricultural – 17%.

Significant progress has been made in raising the level of education of the population. In 1948, the proportion of illiterates among people over 10 years old was 27%, in 1991 – 7%. Completed general or special secondary education was 30%, higher – 4% of people over 15 years old.

According to Countryaah, the population of Serbia and Montenegro is multinational. The main part is made up of South Slavic peoples: Serbs (over 60%) and Montenegrins (about 4%). Albanians are the most numerous among national minorities – approx. 12%, mainly in Kosovo and Metohija, and Hungarians – approx. 3%, mostly in Vojvodina. In addition, there are a significant number of Muslims (in the ethnic sense), Romanians, Gypsies, Slovaks, Croats, Bulgarians, Turks, etc.

The vast majority of the population speaks Serbian dialects. National minorities in their main places of residence use their native language.

The majority of believers are Orthodox: almost all Serbs and Montenegrins, as well as Romanians, Bulgarians, many Gypsies, and others. Most Albanians and Turks are Muslims. Catholicism and other religions are practiced by an insignificant part of the population (mainly Hungarians, Croats).

In the 1990s as a result of ethnic conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Metohija, many Serbs and Montenegrins living in them moved to Serbia. In 2001, the number of migrants in it was 452 thousand, of which 377 thousand had the status of refugees.

Economy of Serbia

Economic reform has been carried out since 2001. Administrative control over prices for almost all goods and services has been lifted, and steps have been taken to liberalize the foreign trade regime. The tax legislation has been modernized and the collection of taxes has been increased. The decentralization of public finances has begun. A new law on foreign investment, a law on the privatization of public and state enterprises in Serbia, and others have been adopted.

The privatization is planned to be completed by 2005. All restrictions on the participation of foreign companies in it have been lifted. In 2002, more than 270 small and medium-sized enterprises were sold (at auctions) and 12 large ones (through tenders). The weak interest of investors in large objects is explained by the unwillingness to take on the solution of their debt and social problems and the poor state of production assets.

As a result of the banking reform of 2001–02 in Serbia, the number of banks was reduced from 86 to 51, and several foreign banks were opened. The Postal Savings Bank has been transformed into a universal bank.

In 2002, the NBU obliged commercial banks to issue and transfer free of charge to the state ownership of shares in an amount equivalent to their debt to the Paris Club and frozen foreign currency deposits of citizens. As a result, the state became a co-owner of 17 commercial banks. Since 2003, the sale of state shares in their capital to strategic partners began. The issuance of licenses for the independent operation of foreign banks has been discontinued.

The stock market is underdeveloped. The total turnover of the Belgrade Stock Exchange in 2002 was approx. $1.7 million.

In 2002, Serbia and Montenegro maintained trade and economic relations with 187 countries. The trade turnover amounted to 8.6 billion dollars, which is twice as much as in 1995, when the sanctions were lifted. Exports ($2.3 billion in 2002) are significantly inferior to imports ($6.3 billion). The main part of the negative trade balance falls on the Russian Federation, which mainly supplies natural gas and oil to Serbia and Montenegro.

In 2002, 50% of Serbia and Montenegro’s trade was with developed countries, 42% with countries in transition, and 6% with developing countries. The leading foreign trade partners of Serbia and Montenegro are Germany, Italy and the Russian Federation, whose shares in its trade turnover were 13, 11 and 10% (2002).

The main export positions of Serbia and Montenegro are non-ferrous metals, clothing, vegetables and fruits, ferrous metallurgy products, rubber products (car tires, etc.), imports are oil and oil products, yarn and fabrics, trucks, natural gas, machine tools.

The balance of payments has a positive balance due to receipts from trade in services (mainly construction and transport), foreign exchange transfers from the diaspora, numbering St. 4 million people, transfers of foreign currency pensions to people who worked abroad, donor assistance, privatization proceeds, etc.

Foreign direct investment is small (in 2002 in Serbia – $475 million). Investors buy mainly operating enterprises. The inflow of capital is constrained by the difficult situation in the economy, the lack of well-established economic legislation, corruption, political instability and uncertainty about the future of the state.

People of Serbia