Republic of Serbia

Motivating Factors

According to 2018 World Bank Data, 43.91 % of Serbia’s population is comprised of rural residents. This is the second-highest percentage of rural residents across the Balkans, with 51.76% of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s residents making their homes in rural areas according to 2018 World Bank Data. In contrast, Bulgaria’s rural population is only 24.99% of residents according to the same source. For this reason, rural innovation in Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina is crucial for the realization of the sustainable development goals. Given that rural residents in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are primarily farmers, education related to carbon emission reduction, green energy, alternative building options such as hemp-based materials, and the planting of income generating crops, such as industrial hemp, that are simultaneously carbon-negative, are crucial elements of sustainable development across the region.

In 2019, data from the National Statistics Office of Serbia (RZS) drew attention to children, teenagers, the unemployed and rural residents being at greatest risk due to the effects of poverty. Official figures for 2017 showed that 25.7% of the population lives at or below the poverty line. The poverty line is drawn at 15600 dinars (130 euros) for a family with one member, 28080 (234 euros) for a couple with one child and 32760 dinars (273 euros) for a couple with two children.

According to Future Challenges and Strategies for Smallholders in Serbia, “Poverty in Serbia is predominantly a rural phenomenon, given that rural communities in some periods were affected more than twice as much in comparison to the cities. Before the beginning of the economic crisis (2006-2008) there was a significantly faster decline of life quality in rural, rather than in urban areas. Rural areas are more responsive to the economic crisis and were strongly affected by it, with the overall growth of poverty in the Republic of Serbia generating an increase in poverty in rural areas.”

According to the May 2011 Assessment of the Labor Market in Serbia by Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, “The Serbian labour market is characterized by low employment and activity rates, particularly for women and young people. This indicates the weaknesses of the secondary educational system in adapting to the needs of the labour market, but also the obsolete skills of the high percentage of long-term unemployed.”

According to the 2019 Labor Force Survey conducted by the Serbian Office of Statistics, although the official unemployment rate is reported as 10.4%, the data shows that permanent employment is, in fact, rare. The official employment rate is reported as being only 49%, with the difference between employed and unemployed recorded as “inactive”. Therefore, for our purposes, we are deeming official statistics to be inaccurate and unreliable. We are therefore relying on third-party data and personal experiences reported by