Serbia has a population of around 7 million inhabitants, but population growth is negative, most likely because of a fertility rate below the replacement rate and a moderate life expectancy. Further, around 17 percent of the population is over 65, which may present a serious challenge for the country and its economy in the coming years.
The largest city in Serbia is Belgrad, and overall the country is slowly being more and more urbanized: Presently, only a little more than half the population resides in urban areas. As a result, a large portion of the Serbian population is still employed in the agricultural sector and agriculture composes around a 19 percent share of GDP. Overall, GDP per capita of Serbia is low compared to GDP per capita in Europe.
Serbia has a history of both political and economic problems which have negatively affected the country’s economy. Serbia was hit by the global financial crisis in 2008 and has not yet been able to recover. Furthermore, budget deficits, although reducing year by year, still continue to hamper economic progress. In the last five years, Serbia’s national debt in relation to GDP is only slowly decreasing from its severe peak in 2015, making its recovery in the long-term more difficult. There are also concerns over Serbia’s inflation rate, which soared in 2011, yet rates slumped in 2016. Other issues include a high unemployment rate, as well as corruption.