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The Statistics Institute of the Republic of Serbia published new income and expenditure statistics this month, revealing that households in Serbia continue to spend more than they earn.
The median monthly net household income in Serbia now stands at RSD60,195 (approx. €505), while monthly expenditures stand at RSD61,477 (approx. €516). While there seems to be only a minor difference between the two numbers, it spells trouble for Serbia’s already unstable economy.
After a period of sanctions in the 1990s, the country’s economy has shown some improvement, but now has one of the lowest economic growth rates in the region. From 1997 to 2017, Serbia’s annual GDP growth rate averaged at 2.77%. In 2013, the country’s GDP growth was among the top ten of European countries, amounting to 2.6% annually.
This growth has been slower recently, however, despite stronger forecasts, and the country’s population has had little to no room for savings over the last two decades.
A 2016 poll showed that only 7% of the population are able to set aside more than €100 per month in savings, while another 40% save between €15 and some €50 per month. The difference in income and expenditure now can mean the difference between accumulating any savings and living month to month, as most in Serbia do.
The Statistics Institute noted that income this year has grown by 2.6% in comparison to 2016, while spending has risen by 2.2% on average per household. Households in Serbia spend 34.2% of their monthly income on food and beverage. Of those who participated in the poll, over 50% rely on income from full-time employment, 31.8% on pensions, 3% from part-time employment or odd jobs, 2.9% from agriculture, another 2.9% rely on “other income sources.”
The numbers also show that people in Serbia are able to spend only 4.8% of their income on recreation and entertainment, as well as a mere 4.6% on new household items and maintenance of their homes.