Multifaceted Nature of Depopulation in Serbia – Recent Trends and Prospect

Vladimir Nikitović

According to all projections, the population of Serbia will shrink in the future. The regions of Western Serbia and Šumadija, as well as Eastern and Southeastern Serbia will be more affected by depopulation. Big cities will continue to grow, and regional demographic and social development will be increasingly uneven. In addition to large economic inequalities, there are differences in the regional human development index. While the Belgrade area is at the level of Poland, the rest of Serbia is comparable to the region and the countries of Central and South America, the Middle East and North Africa. In some areas, the value of the index is a consequence of low education levels (e.g. Braničevo district), good health prospects (e.g. Zlatibor district) or high GDP (e.g. Bor district). Similarly, there are regional differences in fertility. In terms of demography, Serbia resembles an archipelago – different parts of the country have specific demographic challenges and that is why it is necessary to develop policies that will respond to specific regional and local issues. Their ultimate goal should be to incentivise fertility and develop human capital, and a key precondition for positive demographic change is the reduction of regional disparities. Without that, Serbia will not be able to achieve uniform demographic development.