The demographic development of Serbia, excluding Kosovo and Metohija, is characterised by a birth rate which is far below that which is necessary for simple population replacement. According to the latest data (2006), the total fertility rate is 1.44 children per female, meaning that the next female generation is going to be by almost a third smaller than the existing one. The low birth rates that persisted over the last fifty years are the main cause of depopulation and striking ageing of the Serbian population, the natural replacement of which ceased in 1992 in Central Serbia and in 1989 in Vojvodina. The number of deaths exceeded the number of live births by 21,875 in Central Serbia and by 10,012 in Vojvodina.
Central Serbia and Vojvodina are also the regions in which the demographic ageing has acquired large proportions. According to the 2002 Census, more than 900,000 people in Central Serbia and about 300,000 in Vojvodina, or about a sixth of the whole population, were over 65 years of age, which makes the Serbian population one of the oldest in the world.
The mentioned, alarming facts caused the Serbian Government to adopt the Birth Incentive Strategy. According to this strategy, the general goal of sustainable demographic development of the Republic of Serbia is a stationary population, i.e., a population in which the future generations would be of the same size as the existing one. The achievement of that goal also entails the taking of steps towards the following special goals beforehand:
- cutting the economic cost of child raising;
- harmonising labour and parenthood;
- cutting the psychological cost of parenthood;
- promotion of the reproductive health of adolescents;
- struggle against infertility;
- healthy motherhood;
- population education;
- activation of local self-government.
It has been estimated that the implementation of strategic aims is going to call for substantial allocations from the Republic of Serbia Budget. Moreover, provisions have also been made for the establishment of the Fund for Giving Support to Families with Children.
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Like the Strategy itself, the following article has two parts. The first part deals with the phenomenon of insufficient childbearing in Serbia and the second one with the aims of strategic activity and steps to be taken towards achieving such aims. (The Survey- RS editors have supplemented the first part with tables and charts.)
 This strategy was adopted by the Government on 31 January 2008 and it was published in the RS Official Gazette, No. 13 of 1 February 2008. It makes provisions for establishment of the Population Policy Council, as a provisional working body of the Government. The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is the chief agent and coordinator of the implementation of that strategy. It should evaluate the strategic activities and the results achieved periodically or at least in two-year intervals.
Prepared by Dr MIRJANA RAŠEVIĆ, Scientific Adviser,
Director of the Social Sciences Institute, Belgrade
Translated by: Milutin Dovijanić