Serbia Society and Economy
Population, society and rights
The ethnic composition of Serbia (excluding Kosovo) became increasingly homogeneous during the 1990s. If in 1991 the Serbian population constituted about 77% of the total, according to the 2011 census this had reached 83%. The Hungarian minority, on the other hand, constitutes about 3.5% of the total, but exceeds 14% of the residents in the autonomous province of Vojvodina, in the north of the country on the border with Hungary. Religious affiliations mirror ethnic ones: in Serbia 85% of the residents are Orthodox Christian, 5.5% Catholic and 3.2% Muslim; in Kosovo ethnic Albanians now make up 92% of the total and the population is largely Muslim. In addition to the refugees from the wars of the 1990s, scattered throughout the country and the region, Serbia also found itself facing the migrant emergency.
From the point of view of welfare, health expenditure is among the highest in the world (6.4% of GDP), even if in the last decade the sector has proved to be less and less efficient. In the same way, the Serbian school system, which in the socialist period had a high reputation and competed with the best European systems, suffered a collapse in the 1990s and must now exploit aid from the EU, most of which directed towards Europe. ‘secondary education.
Finally, during the 1990s, two social plagues spread in parallel in the country: violence and organized crime. In the first case, many of the episodes linked to urban violence, which also involved Belgrade, have their roots in the circles of the most extremist Serbian nationalism, which exerts great fascination on large sections of the population, in particular on unemployed young people. The second problem, partly connected to the previous one, is constituted by local organized crime, which maintains a widespread presence in some regions of the country and sometimes finds connivance – never officially demonstrated and / or certified – in some similar political circles. A proof of this is the murder of the then Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić, on March 12, 2003,
Economy and energy
The Balkan wars had a strong impact on the Serbian economy. The gross domestic product (2000) calculated in constant dollars, which touched 11 billion dollars in 1990, fell to 5 billion in 1993 before recovering very slowly. The new GDP growth experienced a notable acceleration only in the 2003-07 period, at a rate of around 6% per year, driven by the expansion of domestic demand. Currently the Serbian GDP has reached 36.5 billion dollars.
The transition to a service economy was slower than in other Balkan countries. Industry and agriculture still remain important in the Serbian economy (together they make up about 40% of GDP). Furthermore, Serbian fiscal policies have generally proved to be lax, giving rise to a steady growth in public debt that has reached almost 76.7% of GDP.
An important role is played by international aid and remittances. The EU contributed over $ 250 million in aid in 2012, while Russia provided subsidized loans for a total of $ 1 billion. At the same time, Serbia has finalized the granting of a 1.2 billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund.
The Serbian economy is affected by the lack of competitiveness of its companies at European level and on international markets, as well as by the propensity of domestic demand to turn to imported products. For these reasons, the government is developing programs to contain the trade balance, which aim to bring it below 5% of GDP. At the same time, foreign direct investment amounted to several billion dollars in two thousand years, contracted sharply in 2012 (the emblematic case of Smederevo steel mill, which was sold by U sSteel to the Serbian government for 1 dollar). A turnaround is expected for the next few years, mainly thanks to investments from Russia. These are aimed in particular at the energy sector and Serbian infrastructures, such as the acquisitions by Lukoil and Gazprom of the Beopetrol and Naftna Industrija Srbije companies or the restructuring of the Novi Sad and Pančevo refineries, destroyed by the N ato bombings.of 2009. In the years to come, a strengthening of economic relations with China is also planned, intending to further integrate itself into the privatization processes promoted by Belgrade (in particular in the infrastructure sector) and to promote the creation of a free economic zone on the Danube. The growth prospects of the Serbian economy therefore remain closely linked to the privatization processes and the stabilization of the public financial framework.
On the energy side, Serbia relies heavily on the extraction and consumption of coal (which represents more than half of the national energy mix), while gas and oil imports come mostly from Russia.