The Balkan Population Collapse

by Limbic on November 15, 2009

In this graphic from the Economist we see almost all Balkan countries losing population. This will have severe and unpredicatble social, economic and political consequences across the region.

In this graphic from the Economist we see almost all Balkan countries losing population. This will have severe and unpredicatble social, economic and political consequences across the region.

Earlier in the month I posted a picture of The Belgrade Wall and speculated about a Serbia 50 years from now, where Kosovo had been “saved” (i.e. remained part of Serbia) but we  ended up with a Nothern Ireland type situation after the ethnic Serb population dropped whilst the Albanian population grew.

This post drew some angry fire from those who thought I was being unfair to Albanians by implying they “breed like rabbits”.  For the record, I was making no such claim,  but merely posting a thought experiment based on the assumption that Serbia’s population will fall whilst the Albanian populations of Kosovo, Serbia and Albanian would rise. These assumptions were based on current birthrates which show Albanians are the only Balkan ethnic group with a growing population, although there has been a massive drop in fertility rates amongst Albanians too (7.5 to 2.2  since 1950).

The Economist has picked up the story as part of its special series on global population decline.

From “A birth dearth – The tricky politics of population in the former Yugoslavia“:

OUTSIDE a hospital in Belgrade, two parking spots are reserved for parents with babies. A placard shows a stork delivering a baby that is then driven off in a car. What is telling is that there are only two spaces. Serbia’s population is shrinking.

Demography is causing alarm in many Balkan countries. In Bosnia and Kosovo, the issue can be fundamental. In Macedonia, a bid by the government to give financial aid to encourage (low-birth) Macedonians to have more children but to exclude (high-birth) Albanians was struck down by the constitutional court in April.

Goran Penev, a Serbian demographer, says his country has 7.2m people (excluding Kosovo). But Serbia has one of the oldest populations in Europe and a low fertility rate, so the population is shrinking by 30,000 a year. This is not because Serbs are becoming rich and want smaller families. Rather, the war years and ensuing economic hardship have knocked the stuffing out of Slavs across former Yugoslavia, leading to fewer children, lots of emigration and high abortion rates.

The article goes on to discuss the consequence of these dramatic population declines in the region. This is one trend that you should definitely keep and eye on.

You may also be interested in a post on LimbicNutrition that I put up about the effect of population decline on traditional societies and our ideas about the family:

Al-qaeda versus three person marriages

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