From 2002 to 2010, due to negative population growth, Serbia has "shrunk" by 280,000 inhabitants, it was announced at the presentation of the publication "Natural Changes of Population in the Republic of Serbia 1961-2010" published by the Statistical Office.
Based on data collected during the last year’s census, the birth-rate in Serbia has been below replacement level for decades. Head of the Department of Demography of the Statistical Office Gordana Bjelobrk said that the low birth rate is the primary driving force behind the negative population growth and the intense population aging. According to her, the number of women of childbearing age in Serbia decreased by about 133,000 from 2002 to 2010 only. "According to data for 2010, only eight (Grocka, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Sjenica, Novi Pazar, Tutin, Bujanovac and Presevo) out of total 165 municipalities in Serbia registered a positive population growth. During the same period, not a single child was born in 1,140 out of 4706 settlements," said Bjelobrk.
According to her, in Serbia, excluding Kosovo and Metohija, there are now 7,291,436 inhabitants, while in 1961, five decades ago, there were 6,678,247 inhabitants. "However, while 7,500,031 citizens lived in Serbia (excluding Kosovo) in 2002, eight years later, their number decreased by more than 200,000," warned Bjelobrk. She said that Zemun, Grocka, Cukarica and New Belgrade are the municipalities with the largest population growth from 1961 to 2010, while Crna Trava, Gadžin Han, Targoviste, Babusnica, and Medvedja are municipalities with the largest population decline.
"Changes in population size are consequences of low or negative population growth, on one hand, and on the other, of domestic outflow. It is estimated that in a very unfavorable period for the development of population, like in the nineties, the population growth was mostly affected by the inflow of refugees from the former Yugoslav republics," explained Bjelobrk. She said that according to the 2002 census, 379,135 refugees were registered in Serbia. However, the inflow of refugees could not compensate for years-long consequences of the negative population growth and outflow, so that the population decline was reported in the intercensal period from 1991 to 2002.
Based on the last year's census, the median age of the population in Serbia is 41 years, making it one of the group of countries with very old population. This ranks Serbia the fifth country in Europe by the median age, after Germany with 44, Italy with 43, Finland with 42, Austria and Greece 41.7 each.
According to data for 2010, the life expectancy for men in Serbia is 71.4 years and 76.6 for women.
"The infant mortality rate in Serbia is 6.7 per 1000 live births The highest rate of infant mortality is registered in regions of eastern and southern Serbia, and the lowest one is in Vojvodina," Bjelobrk pointed urging the implementation of health and social measures at all levels as adopted in the National Plan for Children by 2015, in order to reduce the infant mortality rate.
The publication aims at realistic analysis of the demographic picture of Serbia, but also to be the basis for making the necessary decisions in the relevant institutions to stop the years of negative population growth.