Welfare and poverty
During the 1990s, living conditions changed radically in Serbia (Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of SRB and acronym for Serbia.). GDP per capita shrank by 40%. Since peace and democratic and economic development got under way, conditions gradually improved until 2008. When more than 6% of the population lived below the national poverty line, which is very low internationally, at a disposable income of US $ 100 a month. Subsequently, conditions have deteriorated again, mainly as a result of rising unemployment. In 2013, more than 10% would be poor. 2014 HDI index (see HDI) placed Serbia in place 66 among 188 countries and the position had then deteriorated since previous years. Many live on a decent level thanks to help from relatives abroad. The most difficult is the situation for families with many children, for old people in remote rural areas, for refugees from Kosovo and for Roma. The three latter categories also in many cases have poor sanitary conditions, which in 2008 applied to 8% of the residents. In northern Serbia, welfare is significantly higher than in the south and east.
Approaching the EU means that Serbia’s legislation must be aligned with the EU acquis. Since the middle of the 1990s, a number of new laws have been passed that affect different parts of society. But the difference is great between the law texts and the practical application of them. Ignorance and corruption mean that it takes time for new laws to be implemented.
The adaptation to the market economy and the internationalization of business has resulted in new demands on labor market legislation and regulations for multinational companies and other foreign investors. Demands for greater flexibility have contributed to, among other things, decreased job security and this is one of the reasons why short strikes and demonstrations have become commonplace. Another reason is that wages are periodically not allowed to rise despite high inflation. It is in the interest of the state to keep wages down, as low wages are a competitive tool in global business. In the event of strikes, the employer has the right to suspend salary payments and withdraw social security benefits for striking workers.
A constructive dialogue in the labor market is made more difficult by the parties being poorly organized. Many companies are outside the employers’ union and about half of the employees are not unionized. Freedom of assembly and association is constitutionally protected and is generally respected, but there are union activists harassed and also dismissed by the employer.
Growing unemployment is a very serious problem for Serbia. At the turn of the year 2012–13, more than 25% of unemployed persons were estimated and the proportion increased during 2013. Nearly half of the young people are expected to be unemployed. Division of labor is becoming more common and many part-time workers have unclear contracts which means that they can be laid off after a few months’ employment. The working week includes 40 hours. Unpaid overtime is not uncommon, especially in trade, tourism and health care, as well as delayed salary payments in companies and authorities in crisis. The paid holiday covers four weeks, ie. 20 working days.
The major economic and political changes since 2000 include As a result, social insurance has gradually been modernized. Age, disability and survivor’s pension is based on the paid contributions of the employee and the employer and also includes self-employed persons but not farmers. The retirement age is now 65 years for men and 60 years for women. The size of the pension depends on the number of years worked and the size of the salary. Since the end of the 1990s, the number of employed persons in the informal sector has increased gradually. These are not included in the social security system, as their wages are not registered and they do not pay taxes and social security contributions.
Social insurance also includes health insurance that provides free health and dental care, as well as maternity allowance. Maternity leave covers one year for the first two bars and two years for the following. Special occupational injury insurance is still missing; permanent work injury is counted as a disability, while compensation for injury for a shorter period can be paid directly by the employer. Unemployment insurance gives half the salary for a number of months, how long depends on the number of years worked.
Child support is financed through the state budget and is paid to all children with Serbian mother, even the fourth child in the family. They include a family allowance, which is a wealth-tested lump sum, and an income-tested monthly child allowance for the age of 19, for full-time students up to the age of 26.
In 2009, there were 21 doctors and 54 sick beds in 10,000 in Serbia. About 12% of doctors worked in private healthcare. The infant mortality rate was 6.3 ‰ in 2013 and the mortality rate for children younger than five years was 7.1 ‰. In connection with childbirth, 12 women died per 100,000 births. Mortality is lowest in the north, highest in the south and east, which reflects the differences in living conditions. Furthermore, it is twice as high among Roma children and in addition, the average life expectancy is about 20 years shorter among Roma than in the population as a whole.
Abortions have become increasingly common in Serbia. Free abortion applies to week ten and abortion in socioeconomic indications to week twenty. Officially, the number of abortions is quite low, with the actual conditions considered to mean that abortions may be more common in Serbia than in any other country in Europe. One reason is believed to be that the uncertain household economy means that many do not consider themselves able to afford to have children.
Human rights and equality
Approaching the EU has resulted in increased demands for respect for democratic principles and human rights. Tensions still exist between different ethnic groups and several of them find it difficult to secure their rights. Roma are treated as second class citizens. The vast majority of them live in poverty and are severely discriminated against. Forced evictions, physical abuse and Roma harassment are a major problem. LGBTQ people are often subjected to threats and violence, and homophobia is deeply rooted in traditional society. Discrimination against persons with disabilities must be prevented by law, and conditions for the physically handicapped have improved. However, mentally handicapped people are neglected and many of them are in institutions.
Especially in southern Serbia, women’s opportunities are limited by the traditional patriarchal structures that remain there. Violence against women has been a criminal offense since 2003, but a survey in 2010 showed that every third woman in the country had been subjected to domestic violence. Only a minor part of these crimes had been reported. In 2011, a strategy for working against men’s violence against women was adopted.
Around 2010, women held one fifth of the seats in Parliament. Following an amendment to the Election Act 2011, the parties’ electoral lists shall comprise at least 30% of the under-represented gender. The 2012 election saw the proportion of women in the Serbian Parliament increase to 32.4%.
Crime and punishment
Corruption is widespread in society. Particularly in health care, bribery is common. The authorities to monitor and curb corruption lack adequate resources, and some measures have also been criticized for not allowing transparency after the legal reform that began in 2010. At that time, “war” against organized crime was also declared, and drug smuggling was described as the largest the threat to Serbian society. The death penalty was abolished in 2001 and torture is prohibited by law.